Garlic lovers, jazz fans, and global culture aficionados have plenty to look forward to this summer
By Annie Zaleski, Image by Larry E. Highbaugh, Jr.
Here in Northeast Ohio, we take our outdoor festivals seriously. The proof is in the impressive amount of large- and small-scale events happening in the coming months. These festivals cater to garlic lovers, medieval living aficionados, Duct Tape fans, and everyone in between. All promise affordable (and, more often than not, family-friendly) fun.
Hooley on Kamm’s Corners
West Park neighborhood
May 13, 12-8 p.m.
Once a year, West Park celebrates its Irish heritage with an all-day outdoor extravaganza—in traditional parlance, a hooley—that features music, food, craft vendors, Irish dancing, and general mirth and merriment.
Cleveland Asian Festival
St. Clair-Superior neighborhood
May 20-21, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cleveland's AsiaTown is a gem that shines even brighter during this annual festival. Soak up neighborhood culture, food and history; learn about local businesses and innovative entrepreneurs; and enjoy entertainment such as sumo wrestling and an Asian-Pop dance competition.
Berea's National Rib Cook-Off
Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, Berea
Fans of tasty ribs slathered with delectable barbecue sauce, look no further than Berea's National Rib Cook-Off. For 19 years running, this Memorial Day weekend event has gathered the crème de la crème of "ribbers" from across the U.S., as well as upbeat local party bands.
Tremont Greek Fest
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Tremont neighborhood
Bring your appetite to this holiday weekend must-visit destination, which boasts mouth-watering Greek delicacies galore made by the church's parishioners. Later, work off that extra piece of baklava by watching (or grooving to) the musicians and dancers appearing throughout the weekend.
Parade the Circle
University Circle neighborhood
June 10, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (parade at noon)
The Cleveland Museum of Art-presented parade is a crayon box explosion of color featuring costumes, gigantic puppets, stilt dancers and celebratory floats. Circle Village keeps the bacchanalia-like atmosphere going with food and music.
Avon Heritage Duck Tape Festival
Veterans Memorial Park, Avon
Your eyes are not deceiving you: This annual event features the almighty, all-purpose staple of any household—that would be duct tape—with music, food, a parade and a colorful, creative fashion show.
Spend a summer afternoon wandering around the quaint east side neighborhood Larchmere (adjacent to Shaker Square) listening to local musicians play on house porches.
This annual, multi-day jazz festival draws big names to town. In fact, this year's lineup features Boz Scaggs, Boney James, Terence Blanchard, Kamasi Washington, Dianne Reeves, Chris Botti and more.
Cleveland Pride 2017
Voinovich Park, Downtown Cleveland
June 24, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
This year's parade, rally and festival dedicated to all things LGBTQA features local vendors and artists, as well as '80s pop hitmaker Taylor Dayne ("Tell It To My Heart," "Love Will Lead You Back") as a national headliner.
Cleveland Museum of Art, University Circle neighborhood
Commemorate the true start of summer with this mega-popular annual dance party, which highlights a variety of booty-shaking DJs and musicians.
Waterloo Arts Fest
Explore one of the near east side's neighborhood renaissance stories at this funky, fun annual gathering of local artists, musicians, community members and food purveyors.
Great Lakes Medieval Faire
Rock Creek, Ohio
Saturdays and Sundays, July 8-August 13, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Described as a "shaded, 13th-century family fun theme park," the summer-long, weekends-only medieval faire is a throw back—way back—to a simpler time. Enjoy activities such as a daily "Living Combat Chess Match," for example, or an artisan craft fair.
Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival
Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, Berea, Ohio
This annual cultural celebration turns 35 this year. Not only does the event feature Irish dancing, pipe bands and traditional musicians galore—including national acts Gaelic Storm, The Prodigals and Cherish the Ladies—but attendees can also expect plays, vendors, children's activities and even Sunday Mass.
Taste of Tremont
July 16, 12-8 p.m.
Taste of Tremont is an eclectic, must-visit summer destination that spotlights the cozy neighborhood's many delicious eateries, local small businesses and farmers market vendors.
Warehouse District Street Festival
W. 6th St., Downtown Cleveland
August 6, 12-8 p.m.
Because we always need a reason to celebrate unique sections of the city. Head over to the Warehouse District for a street party with great food, entertainment, art, Cleveland's Cutest Dog Contest & Fashion Show, children's activities, Chris Clark Bicycle Stunts, Aerialists and music.
Vintage Ohio Wine Festival
Lake Metroparks Farmpark, Kirtland
August 4-5, 1-10 p.m.
Ohio's breweries may get quite a bit of attention, but the state's wineries certainly have plenty to brag about as well. This annual showcase of the high-quality vino produced right in our backyard also features food, entertainment and select beers.
National Hamburger Festival
Lock 3 Park, Akron, Ohio
Where's the beef? During this weekend, Downtown Akron! Besides an abundance of burgers, attendees can nosh on kettle corn, funnel cakes, ice cream and even vegetarian options.
The Feast of the Assumption
Holy Rosary Church, Little Italy
Little Italy is the focal point of this annual event. In addition to religious events (including a procession and mass on the actual day, August 15) the weekend-long Feast lives up to its name with food and entertainment such as carnival rides.
Burning River Fest
Historic Coast Guard Station, Cleveland lakefront
Besides plenty of brews—after all, the event is co-sponsored by Great Lakes Brewing Co. and the Burning River Foundation—this summer staple books a healthy, diverse array of music, as well.
Flats Festival of the Arts
The Flats, Downtown Cleveland
Hundreds of local and national artists come together to exhibit and sell their work--from ceramics to woodwork to photography and painting--along Cleveland's waterfront. The festival will also showcase live music and dance, with plenty of food and beverages including Flats East Bank's onsite dining and entertainment hotspots.
2017 Cleveland One World Day
Cleveland Cultural Gardens, University Circle
August 27, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Since 1946, the Cleveland Cultural Gardens has held this event, which (as its name implies) champions peace and global unity. Among the highlights: A Parade of Flags highlighting the city's diverse denizens; a citizenship naturalization ceremony; and plenty of performances representing cultures from around the world.
Cleveland Garlic Festival
Garlic aficionados are in luck: This annual celebration of the savory seasoning features plenty of garlic-flavored food from standbys such as french fries to exotic delicacies such as ice cream(!) as well as music and a ceremony to crown the festival's coveted Miss Garlic winner.
Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, Berea
Voted one of the best Oktoberfest in the world, this family-friendly event kicks off the awesome Northeast Ohio autumn festivities with authentic German food, beer, music and dancing. From microbrews to glockenspiels to wiener dog races to a 5K charity Bier Run, it's more than your average stein-hoisting event.
Cleveland National Air Show
Burke Lakefront Airport, Downtown Cleveland
The Air Show is Cleveland’s Labor Day Weekend tradition with three days of aerial thrills featuring the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. The 2017 show includes a rare appearance of a deHavilland Vampire jet and thrilling World War II Pacific Dogfight. From the U.S. Army Golden Knights stomach-churning aerial jumps to the flame throwing Shockwave Jet Truck to military jet demonstrations…this is one show you won’t want to miss!
Tell us! What other outdoor festivals are you looking forward to this summer?