What's new and what's hot at the annual arts extravaganza on the river

The annual Columbus Arts Festival kicks off on Friday, June 7, offering three days of music, dance, visual arts, food and fun for all, free of charge. This year marks the return of many festival favorites, plus a revamped layout meant to make your favorite local artists and musicians easier to find. You’ll find the festival at the riverfront near COSI. The Columbus Arts Festival app includes schedules, maps and amenities. The festivities will run from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Here are a few of this year’s features and must-see artists. For more information, visit columbusartsfestival.org.

Big Local Art Village and Big Local Music Stage

What used to be a single tent is now a whole village on Rich Street showcasing 60 local artists. The village will host art sales, make-and-take projects and demonstrations so that visitors can experience and participate in the artistic process. Demos will be held in Japanese calligraphy, leathercrafting, blacksmithing and more. The village will also include a stage featuring performances by Columbus bands throughout all three days, as well as a beer garden with offerings from craft breweries around the city.

Virtual Reality Tent

Video games represent a seamless fusion of art and play, and the Columbus Arts Festival is the place to see the newest developments firsthand. This year the festival will offer a virtual reality tent, where guests can explore immersive, digital 3D worlds using cutting-edge technology. Local painter and comic artist Bryan Christopher Moss has created three VR environments for visitors to peruse as well as a virtual community art project. Other attractions in the tent will include augmented reality artworks and a selection of games from Midwestern developers.

Pride at the Fest

The Bicentennial Park stage will get a whole lot more fabulous on Sunday morning, when Pride at the Fest takes over, presented by Stonewall Columbus. Enjoy performances by the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, Capital Pride Band of Columbus, singer-songwriter Kelly Vaughn and the Flaggots Ohio flag corps, all hosted by prominent local drag queen Virginia West. The best way to end your weekend of arts and culture is with a rainbow splash.

Food!

It wouldn’t be the Columbus Arts Festival without plenty of good eats. Food trucks, stalls, stands and carts will be positioned at locations throughout the festival, with a wide variety of culinary selections, including classic fair food, BBQ, seafood, Italian, Mexican, Korean, Greek and more, not to mention plenty of desserts. Don’t miss the beer, wine and frozen cocktails, and don’t forget to bring back your Arts Festival beer mug or slushy cup to receive reduced prices and help keep the event as green as possible.

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