Originally published 6/7/18. Updated 6/6/19.
This weekend, the arts will officially take over Columbus.
The Columbus Arts Festival runs from June 7-9 and is on track to be one of the largest ever. Thousands of people come to Columbus each June to enjoy a day filled with fun, creativity, and imagination. The festival hours are Friday from 11 a.m. until 10:30 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. until 10:30 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The festival encompasses all kinds of art, from painting and sculpting to spoken word and classical music. The Columbus Arts Festival is free to the public and completely funded by sponsors. With over 30 food vendors, six entertainment stages, and an entire kid zone, it’s the perfect place to spend the day with your family. The Festival will be located along the Scioto Mile, along the Rich and Main Street bridges, and in front of COSI.
What’s New At The Columbus Arts Festival?
This year, the festival is changing it up. The new layout will have more of a circular shape, making it easier than ever to navigate the festival. The Big Local Art Tent has been upgraded to the Big Local Art Village and there will also be a new Virtual Reality tent! You can read about all of the additions here.
Transportation and Parking
There are so many ways to get to the Columbus Arts Festival. If you’re driving, parking is available at several locations near the Scioto Mile. Park at:
If you’d like to reserve a parking spot now, you can do so through the Columbus Arts Festival Website.
COTA is an official sponsor of the Columbus Arts Festival, which makes it a great way to get there. With the recently redesigned transit routes, it’s easier than ever to find the perfect way to the fest. Not to mention it’s only $2.00-$4.50 (depending on transfers). Please visit Cota.com for more information.
SMRT Self-Driving Shuttles
If you’re looking for free transportation around the festival area, please consider taking one of the SMRT Self-Driving Shuttles! The shuttles are super fun and will travel on the west side of the river, stopping at the National Veterans Memorial & Museum, COSI, Land-Grant Brewing Company, Columbus Idea Foundry and Gravity. They run every 10 minutes.
If you’d like to bike to the festival, it’s totally encouraged. Volunteers from Pelatonia will be hosting a secure bicycle corral. For a suggested donation of $5, you can leave your bike safely and Pelatonia will put your money to good use fighting cancer! The bike corral is located at Town St. and Civic Center Dr.
Can’t Miss Activities
Homage and Student-Designed Merchandise
This year, the festival has partnered with Homage and students from the Columbus College of Art & Design to create the souvenir T-shirts for the festival. The t-shirts are limited-edition and will be available at two official Festival Merch booths located by the GCAC booth at Rich St. and Civic Center and Washington Blvd. and Town St.
Riverfest Presented by MORPC
Want to enjoy the festival from the relaxing comfort of the river? Join in the fun, whether you come by kayak or canoe! The Riverfest water activities will happen in conjunction with the arts festival, on Saturday from 12 p.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m.-4 p.m.
400 SQUARE and Franklinton
Stop in at 400 W. Rich and Chromedge Art Studios to take an inside look at artists’ personal workspaces. You can also check out a variety of demos and mini-workshops to create some art of your own! There will be live mural paintings from Miss Birdy, Giovanni Santiago, Daniel Rona, Dominic Damien, Henry Hess & more. In addition to exhibitions and solo art shows, you can also play a life-sized version of the Game of Life or take a dip in the Hillbilly Hot Tub!
Hands on Activities Village Presented by Battelle
If you’re bringing the kids, your first stop should be the Hands On Art area. Volunteers from local organizations will be around helping your children with fun and educational activities from 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m Saturday, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m on Sunday. There will also be a festival-wide scavenger hunt. Pick up your map, complete five activities, and then choose a free prize!
Children’s Gallery Presented by PNC
The Children’s Gallery gives kids a one-of-a-kind experience. On both Saturday and Sunday, the gallery will be open from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Kids 12 and under can go to the gallery to experience child sized art, all of which is donated by different participating exhibitors.
Remind the kids to bring their allowance money because all of the art in the Children’s Gallery is for sale for $5 or less.
Grass Patch Theatre Presented by PNC
The Grasspatch Performers will be treating festival-goers to performances of St. George and the Reluctant Dragon throughout the weekend. The theater company is made up of local actors, ranging in age from 4 years old to 12 years old! The performances take place near the Hands On Activities area.
Virtual Reality Tent Presented by White Castle
For the first time ever, the Columbus Arts Festival, with support from White Castle, is introducing the Virtual Reality Tent. Visitors can engage in both virtual and augmented reality experiences and games presented by GDEX. There will also be presentations from GDEX, Columbus College of Art & Design, Columbus-based artist Bryan Christopher Moss and more. The Virtual Reality tent is open 2 p.m.–9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12 p.m.–5 p.m. Sunday.
For more information about the activities at the festival, please click here.
The full lineup for performers at this year’s arts festival is insane. It doesn’t matter if you like zydeco music or you enjoy a full orchestra, there is literally something for everyone. Here are some of the performances you won’t want to miss!
There are several different stages at the festival. The ABC6 Bicentennial Stage hosts some of the largest performances all weekend. From BalletMet to Anderson East to the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, there’s something for everyone. Additional stages include the Big Local Music Stage, The Acoustic Lounge, The Dance & Theater Stage, and the Ohio Magazine Word Is Art Stage!
You can view the full lineup here.
There are dozens of vendors ready to serve up some delicious cuisine for festival goers! You can get a bite of something sweet or savory and wash it down with beer, wine, a frozen cocktail, or even fresh-squeezed lemonade! You can support the festival by purchasing an official souvenir cup, which is available for both cocktails and beer. If you bring your cup from a previous year, you get refill prices on your drinks!
The Columbus Arts Festival is one of my favorite things about living in this city. There’s so much to do and see and it’s always incredibly well done. We’ve given you the info you’ll need to get started planning your weekend, but if you need a little extra help, don’t hesitate to download the official Columbus Arts Festival Guidebook.
Get out there and enjoy some art, Columbus!
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