What do wine, fine art, and asparagus have in common? Each is a central theme to three of the coolest events happening next month around the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

It’s not too early to get a jumpstart on planning your spring calendar. Here’s a save-the-date shortlist to get you started.

Spring Sip & Savor — May 3rd and 4th

As Northern Michigan vineyards wake to the sun and warmth of May, the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association is inviting wine lovers to enjoy special wine and food pairings at each of the now 25 wineries surrounding the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Tickets for the annual “Sip & Savor” wine tour are just $35 and include wine and food pairings at each winery, a commemorative glass, a $5 gift certificate that can be used at any LPVA winery and a $5 donation to a select local charity to be announced in April.

Discount lodging packages are also available. For example, The Homestead is offering a “Sip and Savor” weekend package that includes at least one nights’ lodging, two tickets to the Sip & Savor wine trail event, dinner one evening at Nonna’s and a pass to the National Lakeshore. Rates from $89 per person, per night. Call 231.334.5100 for reservations.

For added fun, Sip & Savor participants are encouraged to participate in the “Sip o’ de Mayo Hat Contest” for a chance to win prizes that many of the wineries will be offering. There’s also a fabulous grand prize of two nights lodging at The Homestead (subject to availability) and a pair of tickets to any LPVA weekend tour or the Traverse City Wine & Art Festival.

To get you tickets and to check out a complete list tour activities and special lodging packages, go to www.lpwines.com/spring.

Empire Asparagus Festival, May 16th, 17th, and 18th

Spring in the Sleeping Bear Dunes means lush green forests, sunny skies, morel mushroom hunting and the most ass-paragus kicking festivals in the North. Say what?

Listed as one of the World's Weirdest Festivals by MSN Travel, the 11th Annual Empire Asparagus Festival kicks off on May 16th with a dance and pig roast on Front Street. Grab a pint of Right Brain Brewery’s asparagus beer (or any local brew you choose) and enjoy a good time and the great music of local band, The Benzie Playboys.

Saturday starts bright and early in Empire with a 5k walk/run, followed by an asparagus poetry-writing competition, asparagus food and beer eats, asparagus recipe cook-off, and more.

For the most up-to-date information on this wacky rite of spring, check out the Empire Asparagus Festival on Facebook.

“Leland Air” Exhibition & Sale, May 24th

“Leland Air” is a one-day plein-air painting event and exhibit, hosted by the Leelanau Community Cultural Center at the Old Art Building. On Saturday, May 24th, the public can view artists painting “live” from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in and around the picturesque town of Leland. A reception and sale of paintings “fresh off the easel” will then take place from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Old Art Building in Leland. Prizes for “Best of Show” and “People’s Choice” will also be awarded. There is no ticket charge for the reception but donations are greatly appreciated.