Summer in Central Ohio brings a nearly endless variety of things to see and do. Here are our top picks for some of the best arts, concerts, festivals and other entertainment.
But first, here’s a look at Festival Latino, which will take over Genoa Park in Downtown Columbus in mid-August.
Festival Latino, Aug. 12-13
For more than a quarter of a century, Festival Latino has brought together the community in recognition and celebration of the vibrancy of Latin American culture. In 1996, the city of Columbus launched an initial version of the event, which came to encompass live music performances, art activities, cuisine and more.
The city continued to support the festival until 2009, when budget concerns necessitated the involvement of the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts. “We wanted to make sure it continued to have a life in Columbus,” says CAPA president and CEO Chad Whittington.
Although CAPA is known for owning and managing major indoor performing arts theaters in Columbus, including the Ohio, Lincoln and Southern, the outdoor Festival Latino, offered for free to the public in Genoa Park, was nonetheless a natural fit. “We’re one community in Columbus, but [there are] a lot of cultures, a lot of backgrounds within that community,” Whittington says. “I think it’s important we celebrate all of those cultures.”
This year’s Festival Latino will take place Aug. 12–13 with the usual mix of entertainment, eats and education. Performers are to be announced, but expect both national musicians and local artists. Also on tap are the usual mix of food vendors and a children’s area with games and crafts.
“This is really a weekend that is to celebrate Latino culture, for sure, and the Latino community joins us,” Whittington says. “But it’s for everyone else to come down and hear great music, see great dance, experience great food and really have an introduction or re-familiarize themselves with the Latino community. I learn something every year.”
On Aug. 11, the evening prior to the core two-day event, a free dance party will take place at Lower.com Field Community Plaza.
“Somebody paraphrased that Saturday and Sunday are the wedding for the Festival Latino weekend, and Friday night is the rehearsal dinner,” Whittington says. “It’s just an opportunity to go out, have some fun, enjoy the weather, as long as it cooperates, and get in the mood for the rest of the weekend.” festivallatino.net
More Top Entertainment Picks for August
Columbus Metropolitan Library at 150, Through Sept. 16
To celebrate the library’s sesquicentennial anniversary, this exhibition at the Carnegie Gallery at the main branch explores the meaning and impact of public libraries, with a diverse group of local artists digging into this question, including Rob W. Jones, Tiffany Lawson, Celeste Malvar-Stewart, even Bee’s Knees (better known as the Clintonville Yarn-Bomber). columbuslibrary.org
From Book to Film, Through Oct. 1
Gateway Film Center’s popular From Book to Film movie series continues in August with four titles aimed at teens that adults will enjoy, as well. One highlight: “Ready Player One,” Steven Spielberg’s 2018 sci-fi romp based on Ernest Cline’s bestseller. The story is set in, of all places, Columbus in 2045. Catch it Aug. 25-27. gatewayfilmcenter.org
Columbus Symphony community concerts, Aug. 1–6
Just after the conclusion of Picnic With the Pops, symphony musicians will give an encore, fanning out throughout Columbus neighborhoods to perform community concerts at city recreation facilities: the Dodge Community Center (Aug. 1), Woodward Park Community Center (Aug. 2), Barack Community Center (Aug. 3), Westgate Community Center (Aug. 4) and Driving Park Community Center (Aug. 6). Free, columbussymphony.com
Kari Gunter-Seymour, Aug. 2
Ohio’s Poet Laureate since 2020, Gunter-Seymour is a ninth-generation Appalachian, and she consistently amplifies the voices of her people, including in the poet’s critically lauded 2022 collection, “Alone in the House of My Heart.” Gunter-Seymour will speak on the Thurber House lawn at 6:30 p.m., preceded by a picnic social. thurberhouse.org
Dublin Irish Festival, Aug. 4–6
Each year, the suburb of Dublin evokes its cousin across the pond with this ever-popular annual festival in Coffman Park. This year, look for music acts such as Drowsy Lads, the Red Hot Chili Pipers and Sliabh Notes; and dance groups including the Columbus Celtic Dancers, Dwyer Irish Dance and the Rankin Holland Academy of Irish Dance. Weekend passes $50–$60, one-day tickets and other packages vary, dublinirishfestival.org
ProMusica Chamber Orchestra, Aug. 8, 10–11
The orchestra will perform among the idyllic environs of two Central Ohio settings. Led by music director David Danzmayr, the ensemble will offer its annual “Summer Music Series” on Aug. 8 at the Alum Creek Park Amphitheater in Westerville and on Aug. 10–11 at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Free, promusicacolumbus.org
All Ohio Balloon Fest, Aug. 10–12
The surfer dudes who currently make up the Beach Boys will be among the national acts to perform at this Marysville festival held at the Union County Airport, which will also feature numerous attractions above (way, way above) the concert stage. Aerial entertainment will include hot-air balloons in designs ranging from Coco the Clown to Findley the Fish. Tickets vary, allohioballoonfest.com
The Chicks, Aug. 16
Yes, those Chicks—the once-blacklisted, 13-time Grammy winners of “Not Ready to Make Nice” fame—play Nationwide Arena in support of Gaslighter, their excellent 2020 album that delves into heartache, political protest and lead vocalist Natalie Maines’ own divorce. Singer-songwriter Ben Harper, a 1990s college radio favorite, opens. nationwidearena.com
CBUS Soul Fest, Aug. 19
After debuting last summer in Genoa Park, this festival honoring all aspects of Black culture will be back with a robust lineup of live music and numerous food trucks. Free, sciotomile.com
Columbus Food Truck Festival, Aug. 19–20
Music fans and foodies will descend on the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Hilliard. While visitors flit from one food truck to another, entertainment will be provided on the Main Stage (including Friends of the Dead, the Deeptones and the Winnie Cooper Project) and Acoustics Stage (featuring Good Reverend and Eric Nassau). $5–$7, columbusfoodtruckfest.com
Bettye LaVette, Aug. 24
The 77-year-old soul singer has to see herself in a song in order to record and perform it, and once she does, look out. Chances are you’ll never want to listen to the original again. For this concert at Natalie’s Music Hall in Grandview, the legendary vocalist will perform songs from new album LaVette!, a tribute to overlooked bluesman Randall Bramblett. nataliesgrandview.com
Breakaway Music Festival, Aug. 25–26
The Historic Crew Stadium will again be the site for the event, which this year will feature artists including Flume, Zedd, Porter Robinson and Chris Lake. Tickets vary, breakawayfestival.com
WonderBus Music and Arts Festival, Aug. 25–27
Pitbull, Demi Lovato and Caamp will perform at the festival on the Lawn at CAS, which will also include art and family-friendly activities. $50–$575, wonderbusfest.com
Columbus Fiery Foods Festival, Aug. 26–27
This could be the only summer food festival that some attendees might plausibly attend on a dare: Can your taste buds tolerate all that spicy food? Find out in Genoa Park, where food, hot sauce and salsa vendors will bring their pungent and peppery offerings for the bold among us to sample. Free, columbusfieryfoods.com
Craig Ferguson, Aug. 30
In an appearance at the Southern Theatre, the Scottish-born comedian, actor and former Late, Late Show host is sure to amuse audiences with his take on the state of the world. $30–$50, capa.com
Ways to Give Back
Pelotonia, Aug. 5-6
The city’s premier bicycling event returns, with courses ranging from 24 miles to 184 miles. Over 14 years, participants have raised more than $258 million for cancer research at Ohio State University. pelotonia.org
The Power Chords, Aug. 9
Rock out with the CEO super group, which features local business leaders Nick Akins, George Barrett, Joe Hamrock, Tom Krouse and Steve Markovich, at the Hinson Amphitheater. Proceeds benefit student participation in the arts. newalbanyfoundation.org
Eat Up Columbus, Aug. 26
This soiree at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum includes light bites from area restaurants and raises money to support Freedom a la Cart’s work to empower human trafficking survivors. freedomalacart.org
This story is a combination of our Summer Entertainment Guide and the Datebook feature from the August 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly. It’s been updated to reflect that the Columbus Fiery Foods Festival switched to free admission.