After more than 50 years, we just call it “The Festival.” For most visitors and concertgoers, the last weekend in July is the best time to visit Cincinnati, tour our Downtown and enjoy some of the best R&B music of our time. But for Cincinnati natives, Festival Weekend is a time host out-of-town guests, prepare large meals, perfect our soul train line moves and create memories that our children will never forget. For us, Festival Weekend is quite nostalgic.
Most of us have been celebrating Festival Weekend for our entire lives. As teenagers, our parents allowed us to hang-out on the SkyWalk while they were in the concert, so our curfew was always a little later on those nights. And like most families, we cherished the time with our out-of-town cousins in our city.
As young adults, we invited our out-of-town college mates to visit with us on Festival Weekend, which was always exciting because although we were not at the concert, we were old enough to enter a bar and wear high-heeled shoes.
As adults, we invited other out-of-town couples to visit us, and by this time, we actually attended the concerts and enjoyed the festivities associated with the event. You see, for Cincinnatians, Festival Weekend is the time of year that all of our friends and family want to visit our city. And we definitely get excited when they arrive!
The Festival has also evolved over the years. We grew up with the Coors Light Music Festival and then the Kool Jazz Festival. Both of these events were filled with advertisements and promotions for alcohol and tobacco products.
As adults, we enjoyed the Macy’s Music Festival. The retailer brought the Magic of Macy’s to the concert experience with in-store parties, shopping discounts, celebrity sightings and social media connections. During this time, organizers also introduced the 513 Street Festival, parties on Fountain Square and numerous after-party options.
But with all of the name changes and different venues, most things did not change. We still count the last Friday in July as a vacation day. We still get excited when the line-up is announced each spring. We still invite out-of-town guests to stay with us for the weekend, and most importantly, we still wear white when Frankie Beverly performs!
This year, we will enjoy the Cincinnati Music Festival sponsored by P&G and we look forward to what the global consumer products company has in store for us and the more than 50,000 people who will visit our city for the weekend.
As you prepare for this year’s Music Festival, here are my Top 5 recommendations for the weekend:
- Check the line-up. If Frankie Beverly is performing, wear your white.
- Swing by the 513 Festival, grab a bite from one of the food trucks and shop with local vendors. While you are down there, tour our new Smale Riverfront Park and see for yourself why we have some of the best parks in the country.
- Spend some time on Fountain Square. Enjoy the entertainment on the stage and indulge yourself in our world-famous Graeters Ice Cream.
- Take a tour of our Downtown area. Today, we have horse drawn carriages, Segway tours, Red Bikes, bicycle taxis and walking paths that will allow you to see our infrastructure and historic buildings.
- Head over to MIXX Ultra Lounge after the concerts to meet the locals and learn the Cincinnati Stomp.
Enjoy your time in the Queen City and next time, plan to stay a little longer so that you can also enjoy our amazing arts, culinary delights, parks, riverfront and maybe a Reds game. Cincinnati has so much to offer our visitors, and we hope that you will learn a little more about where we live, work, play and worship!