Polk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake – a Family-Friendly Lakeland Tradition

Polk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake – a Family-Friendly Lakeland Tradition

If we were to make a list of “Lakeland Traditions,” the annual MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake  presented by the Polk Museum of Art, would be at the top of the list! This outdoor art festival has been held annually for over 45 years in Lakeland, and is one of the premier art festivals in Florida. It is held on Mother’s Day Weekend each year.

Whether you visit to browse for artwork, entertain the kids at the Children’s Art Tent and Kids Zone, 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, MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake has something for everyone!

Mayfaire is one of the largest and oldest outdoor art festivals in Central Florida and is on Sunshine Artist magazine’s prestigious “Best 200 Art Shows” list as number 20. Come see why it has such a great reputation!

Polk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake 2017 on Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14 from 9am-4pm along the shores of Lake Morton. There is also a Saturday Night Party and 5K Race on the shores of Lake Mirror. Both events are FREE to attend, with plenty of items available for purchase.

Polk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-LakePolk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake

Here at Lakeland Mom, we focus on kids activities and family-friendly events, and we think MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake is definitely family-friendly, so we’ve put together some tips for attending with children.


  • Plan to go early while it is still cool!
  • Slather on the sunscreen – while you can find shade on the front lawn of the library, and in a select few places along the lake, much of the event is outside in the sun.
  • Wear comfy clothes and walking shoes – you will be outside most of the day, walking on dirt, grass, and concrete.


  • 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 and drink vendors along the lake.


  • Pets – while there isn’t a ban on pets, it’s hot and crowded during certain points of the day, making it a bit hard to navigate unless your pet is extremely well behaved and heat tolerant
  • Bicycles, hoverboards, skates, golf carts, skateboards – again, none of these work well with the art-browsing crowd


Parking for Mayfaire can be found in a variety of locations near Lake Morton. We don’t have a full list of parking options, but know for sure that free parking 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.)


To see all of Mayfaire requires you to walk approximately halfway around Lake Morton, just over 1/2 a mile. We typically walk the full lake to look for nesting swans 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. Keep an eye out for MayFerry stops!

Natacha Monnalisa, Nesting in Lakeland, 2017
This year’s Mayfaire image features artwork by Natacha Monnalisa. See more of her fun and unique work at Booth #81A, and purchase Mayfaire posters and shirts with this design on the front lawn of the Library. 

Polk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake Activities for Kids

Hands-on Children’s Art Tent and Kids Zone
If you attend Mayfaire with kids, be sure to check out the Hands-on Children’s Art Tent and Kids Zone. For 2017 the Children’s Art Tent is moving back to the Lake! Located on Chiles Street just north of the Lakeland Library, the Polk Museum of Art and VSA Arts combine efforts to provide a variety of FREE hands-on art activities designed for participation by children of ALL abilities. There is also kids artwork on display, and it is AMAZING to see the talent of our young local artists.

Live Entertainment on the Front Lawn of the Library
Local musicians, dance companies, and VSA of Florida 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!

Browsing the Art Booths
MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake presented by the Polk Museum of Art has an incredible variety of artwork and hand-crafted items. Some of my boys’ favorite booths are photos 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 sculptures – the list goes on and on. Everyone can find artwork to admire at Mayfaire, 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.

Polk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-LakePolk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake
A print of this piece by artist Stephen Koury is what my 7
year old picked out last year. It is a PAINTING! Isn’t the detail amazing?? Check out more of his work at Booth #63 this year.

Mayfaire 5K & Night Party
After the Mayfaire art booths close down for the day at 4pm on Saturday, the party moves over 2 blocks to the Lake Mirror Promenade. Beginning at 5:30pm, bring your lawn chairs or blankets for a free party on the shores of Lake Mirror, including live music, inflatables, food, and FIREWORKS! New this year will be a variety of FOOD TRUCKS lined up along Lake Mirror for your culinary enjoyment.

The MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire 5K Race begins at 7pm, and you can cheer for the runners as the come across the finish line next to the lake. For more information about the race, contact the Lakeland Runners Club. Fireworks are scheduled for 9pm.

Polk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake lakeland mom mayfairePolk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake.

HAVE QUESTIONS?? Click here to read more about MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake on the Polk Museum of Art website.

More about the Polk Museum of Art

This year the Polk Museum of Art celebrates its 51st anniversary! It 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:

  • It offers SUMMER CAMP PROGRAMS for ages 7-13 – they are Featured in our Summer Camp Guide.
  • The Museum’s permanent collection has grown to over 2,500 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 130,000 visitors come to the Museum annually to learn through works of art from across time and place. Our partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and other museums makes it possible for citizens in our region to experience the world.

Did you know that Museum admission is FREE every single day? It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and Sundays from 1pm to 5pm (Closed Sundays, June 1 through Labor Day.)

Even though admission is free daily, the Museum offers an Annual Family/Household Membership beginning at only $60/year. It is fully tax-deductible, supports the work of the Museum, AND gets you the AWESOME reciprocal benefits listed below:

Click here to learn more about membership and join today!

Polk Museum of Art presents MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake 2017 on Saturday, May 13 and Sunday, May 14 from 9am-4pm along the shores of Lake Morton.

Have a tip to share? Or just want to tell us what YOU love about the Polk Museum of Art’s MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire by-the-Lake? Leave a comment below!

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