Just a few blocks east of Downtown Cleveland is a neighborhood brimming with more than 20 family-owned businesses boasting worldly cuisine and Eastern grocers; unique trinkets, handmade wares and cool retail; and a global citizenship representing places like China, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.
It's Cleveland’s AsiaTown — running from E. 18th to E. 40th streets, and from St. Clair to Perkins avenues — and it’s best experienced during the 2023 Cleveland Asian Festival on May 20-21.
Here’s a few reasons you can’t miss this event.
1. Best. Food. Ever.
Bahn mi, bibimbap, chutney, dumplings, kimche, lo mein, larb, mandu, pho, steamed buns, sticky rice … if your mouth isn’t watering right about now, you’ve got a problem.
"We make sure that the people vending food at the Cleveland Asian Festival are providing high-quality Asian meals," Johnny Wu, one of the festival founders, said. "We don't want visitors to think they're just coming to any regular festival. We want them to be able to enjoy the best of Asian cuisine."
This year is no different, as festivalgoers can expect good eats and sweet treats from some of the city's best restaurants.
2. From Bollywood to K-Pop
The Cleveland Asian Festival always boasts an impressive array of performance groups—and this year is no exception. On Saturday night, the dance floor will be on fire during the Asian Pop Dance Competition. Dance categories include J-Pop (Japan) and K-Pop (South Korea).
Throughout the festival, don’t be surprised if you run into a few Indian classical dancers, Japanese Taiko drummers, Chinese waist drum performers, and hip-hop and J-pop performers.
3. Lions & Henna & Wares...
The dance of the lion is one of the festival's crown jewels. Performed by two members of the Kwan Family in a large lion costume — adorned with brightly colored fur, glitter and mirrors — the dance is accompanied by a band of cymbals and drums. The aim is to symbolically scare away evil spirits. Better yet, feed it money and you might just score some good luck.
Spin scooters will be available if you'd like to do an AsiaTown Walking Tour. Or you can treat yourself to an intricate henna tattoo; shop unique art and clothing from dozens of vendors; scope a fashion show; and learn the art of cosplay.
The Cleveland Asian Festival, located at E. 27th Street and Payne Avenue, will be held May 20-21 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Admission is free.
Visitors are encouraged to utilize the free parking available at the Cleveland State University parking lot off Payne Avenue. From there, festivalgoers may either walk the three blocks to the festival or take a free shuttle (runs every 10-15 minutes).
Click here to learn more about this uniquely Cleveland fest.
Search More Events
In the mood to experience more of Cleveland’s many festivals and events? Visit Destination Cleveland’s events calendar for the 411 on what’s happening in The Land here.