For The Explorers: 12 Months of Great Columbus Events
Considering making the move to Columbus? This list of awesome annual events here in the 614 has practically no end to it, so it’s nearly impossible to pick favorites. Here are a few truly amazing and unique events that the team at Rockford Homes thinks will impress anyone who finds themselves here, whether they’re a weekend visitor or a new permanent resident.
Check it out, and see if you can find a new favorite!
January: Columbus Winter Beerfest
Columbus’ colossal craft beer scene is so massive, you could probably find an event celebrating it every weekend. One of the biggest, though, is Columbus Winter Beerfest, which is usually the third weekend in January and serves up brews from 130+ breweries across two nights. Try out some of the local breweries, get a crack at rare or experimental offerings not often found in bars, grab some appetizers in the Connoisseurs Reception, jam out to live music or sing some of your own on the karaoke stage!
Can’t make Columbus Winter Beerfest? Consider some of these other local craft beer events instead!
- Columbus Craft Beer Week/Six One Pour: May
- Digfest: June
- Columbus Summer Beerfest: August
- The Summer Session: August
- North Market Ohio Craft Brew Fest: September
February: Think Outside the Brick
February is usually the last chance to check out the Columbus Museum of Art’s massive annual LEGO exhibition, which opens in November each year. There are tons of brilliant LEGO creations built by the Ohio LEGO Users Group, but the centerpiece is always a gigantic model of Columbus’ landmarks. If you’re bringing the kids, they can’t play with the models, but they can build their own creations in the Open Studio on Saturday afternoons.
March: Arnold Sports Festival
One of the biggest multi-sport festivals in the entire world takes place right here in Columbus on the first weekend of March. From prestigious bodybuilding competitions to mixed martial arts to visual arts to off-the-wall options like axe throwing and pickleball, the Arnold Sports Festival has activities to keep everyone in the family entertained. And if you have good timing, you might even run into the event’s founder and namesake: the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger!
April: CCAD Art Fair
For brilliant, innovative art at extremely reasonable prices, it’s hard to top the Columbus College of Art & Design’s spring art sale, usually the first Saturday in April. It starts with a special admission-only First Look, and general admission follows, with all proceeds going directly to the student artists. Ever wanted to discover the next great artist? The CCAD Art Fair is a great place to start!
May: The Memorial Tournament
It’s one of the biggest championships in PGA Tour golf, and it kicks off on Memorial Day every year, pulling in some of the most prominent names in golf. If you’re a golf fan, the Memorial Tournament presents an amazing opportunity to see all your favorites in competition. And if you’re not? No problem; there’s much more to appreciate, from on-course hospitality areas to the pre-tournament road race to the brand-new FORE! Fest in Dublin’s Bridge Park district.
June: Columbus Arts Festival
More than 270 artists seems like a lot. And, well, it is a lot! But that huge list of exhibiting artists is just one piece of Columbus’ biggest annual celebration of the arts, which takes over the Downtown riverfront for a weekend in early June. The Columbus Arts Festival also boasts local food trucks and craft beer, hands-on arts activities, musical performances by local and national acts, a local art tent, dance, theater, poetry, even visits from official mascot the Art Shark.
There are plenty more warm-weather arts festivals around central Ohio! Here are some other options:
- Art Stroll (Canal Winchester): May
- Delaware Arts Festival: May
- Worthington Arts Festival: June
- Wine and Arts Festival (Grove City): June
- Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival (Gahanna): June
- Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce Music & Arts Festival: July
- Art Crawl (German Village): July
- Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival: September
- Arts in the Alley (Grove City): September
July: Picnic with the Pops
From patriotic favorites and rousing marching band music to rock ‘n’ roll tributes and symphonic hip-hop, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s Picnic with the Pops summer concert series never ceases to amaze. The series runs June through July at Columbus Commons, smack in the heart of Downtown. In the last few years, the orchestra has performed a mash-up of Coldplay and Beethoven, backed up rapper Nelly and paid tribute to Prince, and this year, they’ll even be doing a show with Hanson – yes, that Hanson, of “MMMBop” fame.
You know there’s more than one summer concert series in Columbus, right?
- Sundays at Scioto, Dublin Arts Council: June-July
- JazZoo, Columbus Jazz Orchestra: July-August
- Ohio State Fair concert series: July-August
August: Dublin Irish Festival
As close to Ireland as you can get outside of, you know, Ireland, the Dublin Irish Festival celebrates Irish culture the first weekend of August in a huge variety of ways – food, music, beer, genealogy, dance, Irish whiskey tastings, storytelling, children’s activities, Celtic sports, Irish dogs, a 5K, theater, a pub crawl and more. Talk to historians and crafters in the historical Ireland section, order some corned beef and cabbage with a Guinness, or jam out to one of the many fantastic bands on the schedule (we recommend Brigid’s Cross; they do a fiddle version of “Free Bird” that has to be heard to be believed).
September: Columbus Open Studio & Stage
This late-September artistic walkabout of Columbus is fairly new – it started in 2016 – but the insight Columbus Open Studio & Stage offers into our creative community’s inner workings is unparalleled. Dozens of local artists, with media ranging from painting and sculpture to mixed media and guitars, throw open their studio doors for visitors to check out their work and their artistic processes. And the studio tour, despite its impressive scope, is only part of the picture; performing arts venues and concert halls, from a small acoustic concert space to the theater that hosts touring Broadway productions, will also be available for tours and education.
October: HighBall Halloween
Columbus is home to one of the biggest Halloween costume parties in the nation. For HighBall Halloween in mid-October, a section of High Street is closed off for musical performances, professional and amateur costume contests, a drag show, specialty cocktails, a gala and more. The costumes that patrons come up with are positively awe-inspiring – whether that be for reasons of detail, creativity or just obscurity – so be sure to bring your A game for your own costume. It’s absolutely worth the effort.
November: Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival
Almost 40 eye-popping illuminated displays designed by Chinese artisans turn the Natural Resources Park at the Ohio Expo Center into a uniquely astonishing sight from mid-November through early January. There’s also Chinese food and nightly performances. They’re great – but the lanterns themselves are the main event, and they’re almost too impressive to adequately describe. A walk through the Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival is a sight like no other.
And, of course, there are more holiday-season light displays in central Ohio, on the same time frame:
- Wildlights: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
- Gardens Aglow: Franklin Park Conservatory
- Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights: Alum Creek State Park
December: The Nutcracker
BalletMet‘s production of The Nutcracker, running from early December to just before Christmas, is a seasonal institution here in Columbus. You could easily make the case that it’s the linchpin of central Ohio’s holiday performing arts offerings, with jaw-dropping sets, a massive cast – including children from all our local school districts – and an endless list of signature touches to set it apart from any other Nutcracker you’ve ever seen.
What other holiday performing arts traditions does Columbus have?
- Shadowbox Live’s Holiday Hoopla: Mid-November through late December
- Columbus Jazz Orchestra’s Home for the Holidays: Last weekend in November
- Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops: First weekend in December
Done marking up your calendar yet? Well, make sure you leave space, because the more you learn about Columbus, and the more time you spend here, the more amazing events you’ll want to add to your agenda!