Just a few blocks east of Downtown Cleveland sits an inconspicuous neighborhood that’s brimming with the kind of delicious authenticity that food lovers dream of.
Dotting the urban streetscape of AsiaTown (between East 18th and East 40th streets, and from St. Clair to Perkins avenue) are more than 20 family-owned businesses boasting worldly eats and Eastern grocers; unique retail shops; and a global citizenship representing places like China, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.
And there's no better time to experience all of AsiaTown's splendor than during the annual Cleveland Asian Festival in May. The Cleveland Asian Festival is a grassroots festival that highlights Cleveland’s AsiaTown, Diversity, and Asian Culture in Northeast Ohio. Organized by the community, for the community to celebrate Cleveland’s diversity and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
The annual festival offers Free Admission, Free Parking with Free shuttle bus rides to and from the festival, Live entertainment including Cultural Performances and demonstrations on two outdoor stages, a World Marketplace of 100+ vendors and exhibitors, 25+ local restaurants, and caterers offering authentic Asian cuisines, Free health screenings at the Health Pavilion inside Asia Plaza, Free activities, Free games, Cleveland Asian Festival Trivia, and an Asian Pop Dance Competition.
What To Do There
- More food than you can possibly imagine. Come hungry. No joke. Bahn mi, bibimbap, chutney, dumplings, kimche, lo mein, larb, mandu, pho, steamed buns, sticky rice…it’s all there. And, it’s all calling your name.
- Cultural dancing, music and demonstrations are big parts of the Cleveland Asian Festival. So, don’t be surprised if you run into a few Polynesian hula dancers, Japanese Taiko drummers, kung fu fighters and belly dancers.
- Ready to work off that big bowl of noods? Then suit-up for the oh-so-popular sumo wrestling competitions where participants battle each other inside inflatable sumo wrestler costumes. Or, enter the sushi-eating contest and/or eggroll-eating contest for the chance to take home a swanky new t-shirt, shiny trophy and bragging rights.
What Else To Do
- You think you can get down on the dance floor? Check out the moves from many of the festival’s performance groups who bring next-level cultural infusion to the dance floor with a competition featuring Bollywood (India), C-Pop (China), J-Pop (Japan), K-Pop (South Korea) and Nepali Hip Hop.
- Festivalgoers are pretty sweet on the dance of the lion. Performed by two dancers stuffed into a single, large lion costume — adorned with brightly colored trinkets, fur, glitter and mirrors — the dance is det to rhythm by a band of cymbals and drums to symbolically scare away evil spirits.