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2024 Mayfaire by-the-Lake presented by the Polk Museum of Art – a Family-Friendly Lakeland Tradition

Mayfaire by the Lake Art Show Lakeland Florida

If we were to make a list of “Lakeland Traditions,” the annual Mayfaire by-the-Lake presented by the Polk Museum of Art, would be at the top of the list!

This outdoor art festival in Lakeland, FL started in 1971, and is a premier fine art festival in Florida, ranked among Sunshine Artist Magazine’s “200 Best Art Shows” for ten years in a row. It is held on Mother’s Day Weekend each year and is family-friendly and fun for all ages.

The 2024 Mayfaire by-the-Lake will be held on Saturday, May 11 and Sunday, May 12 from 9am-4pm along the shores of Lake Morton in Downtown Lakeland. This two-day arts festival in Central Florida is FREE to attend, with plenty of food, drinks, merchandise, and artwork available to purchase.

If you’ve never been to Mayfaire or aren’t sure what to expect, we can help! Whether you visit to browse for artwork, entertain the kids at the Children’s Art Tent, watch the performances on the front lawn of the Library, partake in the variety of food and beverage vendors, or just be part of a wonderful community event that is perfect for all ages, Mayfaire by-the-Lake has something for everyone.

In addition to planning a visit to Mayfair Lakeland, check out our Mother’s Day Guide to find brunches and other activities for Mother’s Day weekend.

Mayfaire By the Lake

Tips for Attending Mayfaire with Children

Plan Ahead – Know before you go

  • If you can, plan to go early while it is still cool!
  • There is no set amount of time to spend at Mayfaire, you’ll stroll at your leisure. There are more than 150 booths, so we typically stay at least 2 hours to be able to see them all.
  • Slather on the sunscreen – you can find shade on the front lawn of the library, and in a select few places along the lake, but much of the event is outside in the sun.
  • Wear comfy clothes and walking shoes – you will be outside, walking on dirt, grass, and concrete.
  • As with any event that draws a crowd, be sure your kids know your cell number or have it written/pinned on them somewhere. Take a photo of what they are wearing in case you get separated and need to ask security for help. Be sure they know who to ask for help in case they get separated. {I speak from experience, this happened to us one year when we each thought our 8-year-old was with the other parent}

Things to Take to Mayfaire

  • Stroller or wagon – the art booths cover over half of Lake Morton. If you wouldn’t go to a theme park without a stroller, don’t go to Mayfaire without one either. (My personal mantra is hot kids=whiny kids + no stroller=NO FUN!) Plus a stroller or wagon makes it easy to store/carry any new artwork you might purchase!
  • Backpack – backpacks are always the best way to carry gear when you need your hands free to keep track of the kiddos
  • Outside Food & Drink is allowed – be sure you either bring water with you or plan to buy some. There are also PLENTY of great food vendors and drink vendors along the lake.

Things to Leave at Home

  • Pets – while pets are allowed, it is hot and crowded during certain points of the day, making it a bit hard to navigate unless your pet is well behaved and heat tolerant.
  • Bicycles, hoverboards, skates, golf carts, skateboards – again, none of these work well with the art-browsing crowd.
Heather Nagy, 'Waterfowl at Lake Morton, Lakeland,' Acrylic on canvas, 2024 Mayfaire by-the-Lake Featured Artwork (2)
Heather Nagy, ‘Waterfowl at Lake Morton, Lakeland’
Acrylic on canvas
2024 Mayfaire by-the-Lake Featured Artwork

Where to Park at Mayfaire

Parking for Mayfaire can be found in a variety of locations near Lake Morton. A designated parking lot is available at Florida Southern College on the corner of Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright Way. A free shuttle will run between that parking lot and the festival.

Other locations we have found parking in previous years include the lot between the Lakeland Chamber and Florida Citrus Mutual (off Lime St.), and at First United Methodist Church for a small donation. (Note that if you attend on Sunday, FUMC’s parking lot will be used for Church until after 12pm.) Click here for parking and shuttle information.

Getting Around at Mayfaire

 To see all of Mayfaire requires you to walk a little more than halfway around Lake Morton, just over 1/2 a mile. It is right at 1 mile to walk around the entire lake.

We typically walk the full lake to look for nesting swans and birds on the west side, but you can also utilize the MayFerrys, free shuttles that run around Lake Morton and to the Museum during the festival.

Alex Lanier, ‘The Future’
2023 Mayfaire by-the-Lake Featured Artwork

Mayfaire Activities for Kids

Children’s Art Tent and Kids Zone

If you attend Mayfaire with kids, be sure to check out the Kids Zone and Hands-on Children’s Art Tents. The Kids Zone will be located at the triangle in front of First Methodist Church. Activities include:

  • Kid’s Collect – A kids-only tent where they can purchase artwork donated by the artists at a nominal price.
  • To-Go Art Activities – This year you can pick up 4 take-home art activities, each kit comes with all necessary supplies and instructions. Collect them all by stopping by all four Children’s Art Tents as you make your way around the lake!
  • Kids Zone – Inflatable yard games

There is also children’s artwork on display, and it is AMAZING to see the talent of our young local artists.

Mayfaire Childrens+Art+Tent

Live Entertainment – Front Lawn of the Lakeland Public Library

Local musicians, dance companies, schools, and other groups perform on stage on the shady front lawn of Lakeland Public Library throughout the weekend. THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO FIND SOME SHADE AND ENJOY A SHOW! See the performance schedule.

Browsing the Art Booths

With more than 150 artist booths, Mayfaire by-the-Lake always has an incredible variety of artwork and hand-crafted items. Visit the website to see the Artist Gallery.

Some of my boys’ favorite booths are photography and paintings of wild animals. We love finding unique artwork to look at together and figure out how the artist created it. Think about what your children’s interests are and keep an eye out for artwork and creations that will grab their attention – I’ve seen artwork and photos of dancers, the beach, animals, Lakeland landmarks, jewelry, flowers, colorful fish, metal robot sculpture – the list goes on and on. Many artists also love to talk to guests about their creative process – don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Everyone can find artwork to admire at Lakeland’s art festival, even the kiddos!! If you really want to make it memorable, give the kids a little bit of money to spend and let them pick out a piece of artwork to display in their own room. There are plenty of art prints and small items to be found for $15-30.

Visit the Polk Museum of Art

The Museum is open during Mayfaire, it is a great place to cool down and explore the galleries.

Eat, Drink + Shop

You can find May-Fare (a variety of food and drink vendors) located throughout the art show. You can also stop by the Polk Museum of Art tent on the Library Lawn or in The Shop at Polk Museum of Art to purchase a Mayfaire by-the-Lake keepsake featuring the image above including posters, shirts, and more.

Volunteer Opportunities

Each year, dozens of volunteers help make the success of Mayfaire possible. They have a variety of opportunities for all, no matter your skill set.

Learn more and sign up at (look for the Volunteer button).

Mayfaire Featured Image 2022
Enjoying the Show, Mike Williams
2022 Mayfaire by-the-Lake Featured Image

Saturday Night Block Party & Mayfaire 5k

The 2024 Lakeland Runners Club MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire 5k begins at 7pm at Lake Mirror on Saturday, May 11, 2024. For more information about the road race, contact the Lakeland Runners Club.

{In previous years there was a Saturday Night party on the Promenade at Lake Mirror with live music and fireworks or a block party and market in Downtown Lakeland. We have not seen any details for a Saturday evening event in 2024.}

More about the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College

Polk Museum of Art

The Polk Museum of Art, founded in 1966, is the largest and the only nationally accredited visual arts organization in Polk County and has been a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum since 2010. Some interesting facts about the museum:

  • The Museum offers SUMMER ART CAMPS for ages 7-13
  • The Museum’s permanent collection has grown to over 2,800 works of art, including works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Andy Warhol, Faith Ringgold, Pablo Picasso, Miriam Shapiro, James Rosenquist, Barbara Kruger, Marc Chagall, Damien Hirst, Hung Liu and others.
  • It serves roughly 35,000 students per year both at the Museum and in locations throughout Polk County. This includes every fifth-grade student in Polk County Schools.
  • Approximately 140,000 visitors come to the Museum annually to learn through works of art from across time and place. Their partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and other museums makes it possible for citizens in our region to experience the world.
  • An expansion began in 2023 – it will add over 10,000 square feet of gallery, classroom, and art laboratory space to the current 38,000 square foot building.

Did you know that Museum admission is FREE every single day? It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm (Closed Monday and major holidays).

Even though admission is free daily, the Museum offers an Annual Family/Household Membership beginning at only $80/year. It is fully tax-deductible AND supports the work of the Museum, AND gets you the AWESOME reciprocal benefits listed below:

  • Savings on art classes, workshops, camps, and at-home art activities for all ages, including After School Art
  • Free ArtLab and one Art Appreciation Class
  • Free admission to Bok Tower Gardens
  • Free admission to MOSI during February and July
  • Reciprocity to 60 Smithsonian Affiliates, including museums in Tampa and Orlando.
  • 50% off general admission to The Florida Aquarium and Clearwater Marine Aquarium

**Offers subject to change. Check the Membership website for current reciprocal offers and other discounts.**

In addition to planning a visit to Mayfair Lakeland, check out our Mother’s Day Guide to find brunches and other activities for Mother’s Day weekend.

Spring Activities Guide

Check out our full Spring Activities Guide for more things to do in Lakeland, Polk County, and Central Florida from January – May. BBQ Festivals, Valentine’s Day, 5k races, seasonal events, annual favorites, SUN ‘n FUN, Easter Egg Hunts, Mother’s Day, and more.