United States

The Best Festivals and Fairs in Ohio

by Paul Joseph  |  Updated December 14, 2022

There are a huge number of festivals and fairs that take place across Ohio each year, many of which celebrate particular social or cultural characteristics of the region.

Drinks at the ready at Columbus Beerfest (Photo: Columbus Beerfest)

Stretching from the Ohio River and Appalachian Mountains in the south to Lake Erie in the north, the Midwestern US state of Ohio is the place to go for a taste of authentic, rough-edged America. From the beaches of Lake Erie, to the large urban centres of Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, to the world’s largest Amish enclave, the state is also awash with natural beauty, city attractions and a rich cultural heritage. If you’re planning a trip to Ohio in 2023 or 2024, we’ve picked out the best annual festivals and fairs held throughout the state.

Columbus Beerfest

The city of Columbus has a thriving beer brewing scene and at the heart of it is this annual winter festival. Lovers of the amber nectar flock to the Greater Columbus Convention Center for a day of beer-themed festivities, with the chance to sample more than 150 local and craft brews, as well as new craft wineries and distilleries. There are a range of ticket options available, including early admission tickets and Connoisseur Level tickets, which include a ballroom reception with appetiser bites and a souvenir glass. There are also designated driver tickets, which allows you to bring a non-drinking guest for a discounted price.

Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus / January each year

Cleveland Kurentovaje

Traditionally attired participants at the Cleveland Kurentovanje Winter Festival (Photo: Andy Wrobel Photography )

To usher in spring each year, Cleveland’s large Slovenian community hosts a multi-day celebration at venues across the St. Clair-Superior neighbourhood. Founded in 2013 to mirror Slovenia’s annual folk festival, the event celebrates the Eastern European nation’s rich history and culture. Highlights include a sumptuous dinner curated by Slovenian chefs, an interactive exhibit at the city’s Slovenian Museum and Archives, and Slovenian craft-making. The occasion culminates in a day-long Parade and Festival complete with costumes, ethnic food and drink, live performances, and costumed Kurents – tall, furry creatures sporting carnival masks, sheepskin hats and cowbells tied around their waist.

St. Clair-Superior, Cleveland  / February each year 

Cincinnati Winter Blues Experience

(Photo: Cincinnati Winter Blues Experience)

Now into its 4th year, this festival is dedicated to all things Blues, and features some of the biggest names on the Blues circuit. Performances take place across two grand ballrooms with nonstop music, large dance floors, and seating for up to 450 patrons. Notable names on the line-up include the likes of King Solomon Hicks, GA-20, Tullie Brae, Gabe Stillman, Ivy Ford, Lady Joya, Misterman & the Mojo Band, the Mojo Blues Cats, the Doug Hart Band, Tempted Souls and Johnny Fink & the Intrusion.  Meanwhile full bars and food concessions are on hand to keep revellers’ energy levels up.

Manor House, Mason / February each year

Acoustics for Autism

Every year on the first Sunday in March, something special happens at The Village Idiot pizzeria in the city of Maumee in Lucas County. Acoustics for Autism is one of the largest free music events in the country, with all proceeds going directly to local families affected by autism. Project iAm is an entirely volunteer-based charity that started Acoustics for Autism in 2008, growing from 17 to 68 entertainers across 7 stages. Money raised is given to families in the Northwest Ohio area with children suffering from ASD to help them find the treatment resources they feel work best for them.

300 Block of Conants and surrounding area, Maumee / March each year

A thumping performance during the Acoustics for Autism music festival (Photo: Project iAm)

Cincinnati International Wine Festival

If you’re not tempted by a weekend of wine and food in the name of charity, then what can we say? One of America’s biggest and best wine events, the festival features wine personalities from across the world, top chefs from local restaurants, and – crucially – more than 700 wines from over 200 wineries. Samples are in ample supply, and there’s a chance to meet wine producers, hear their stories, and learn all about the art of wine-making. Guests can enjoy meals by-the-bite and served with wine pairings, and there’s also a silent auction, with rare and highly sought-after wines up for grabs. If that’s not convinced you, half of every ticket sale price goes to support local charities.

Duke Energy Convention Center Grand Ballrooms, Cincinnati / March each year

A reveller with glass in hand at the Cincinnati International Wine Festival (Photo: Cincinnati International Wine Festival)

Berea’s National Rib Cook-Off

Taking place over the Memorial Day Weekend, the annual Berea’s National Rib Cook-Off is the only way to kick-off spring in Cleveland. Other Memorial Day festivals have come and gone, but this one in the city’s western suburb of Berea is still going strong after more than two decades. Produced by the Berea City Club, the event is the club’s largest event each year, with much of the money raised going back into the community. More than 12 Rib Teams descend on the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds to compete for Best Ribs, Best Sauce and People’s Choice awards. A family-friendly occasion, there’s also free musical entertainment all weekend long. Free on-site parking is available and children 12 and under go free.

Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, Berea, Cleveland / May each year

A World A’Fair

Now in its 45th year, Ohio’s largest international festival and the Dayton Convention Center’s largest single event on its busy annual calendar plays host to two full-time stages with local and invited dance and music performers. There are over 30 booths from around the world, each presenting a captivating cultural display with a particular theme, such as “best kept secret”. Most of the international booths sell food, beverages (including alcohol) and merchandise that is representative of their country or culture. In short, it’s a wonderful event for the entire family, with something for everybody.

Dayton Convention Center, Dayton / May each year

A live performance at A World A’Fair (Photo: A World A’Fair)

Cleveland Asian Festival

A grassroots festival created to celebrate Cleveland’s AsiaTown and northeast Ohio’s Asian culture as a whole, the Cleveland Asian Festival offers up an array of live entertainment. Visitors can expand their horizons at a World Marketplace featuring Asian books, art and accessories, catch a cultural performance or martial arts demo held across two outdoor stages, indulge in dishes, pastries and beverages from all over Asia at the Asian Food Court, and learn all about traditional Asian rituals such as the lion dance – a captivating mix of dance and parkour.

Asian Plaza, Cleveland / May each year

Cincinnati Alchemy Fest

The brainchild of three close friends who co-own renowned downtown Cincinnati bar Arts’ on the Avenue, this fun-filled festival sees some of the region’s best bartenders and mixologists go head to head in a friendly competition for the cocktail crown. The event also features an art show with works by local artists, as well as live music by a diverse line-up of solo performers and bands. There are also DJs spinning disks and vendors selling coffee, crafts, and more.

Arts’ on the Avenue, Cincinnati / May each year

Troy Strawberry Festival 

Every year on the first weekend of June, the city of Troy stages a festival that celebrates its status as  the epicentre of Ohio’s strawberry production scene. Taking place in the city’s historic downtown district along the Great Miami River, the event includes more than 100 arts and crafts vendors, great food and drink, entertainment, and of course, plenty of strawberries. Other highlights include a strawberry pie eating contest, 5k & 10K runs, a strawberry pageant, a tennis shootout, live music, a cruise-in and other family-friendly activities.

Downtown Troy and along the Great Miami River Levee / June each year

Festival-goers pose for a photo at the Troy Strawberry Festival  (Photo: James Smith)

Ohio Dreamfest

Live music, a community fire, a massive balloon water fight, mouth-watering food vendors, and a whole host of workshops and activities are just some of the things to look forward to at this annual festival. Visitors can either come for the day or avail themselves of free camping facilities (complete with showers and flushable toilets). Workshops include yoga, reiki, sound bathing, massage, meditation, and more, and there’s also plenty of kids’ entertainment in the shape of bounce houses, arts and crafts, and face painting.

 J & M Ranch, Ansonia / June each year

(Photo: Ohio Dreamfest)

Black Diamond Music Festival

Produced by Hocking College in the city of Nelsonville, with the participation of many of the college’s students, this festival is dedicated to celebrating the culture and music of the region, with an emphasis on old-time country, bluegrass and other roots music. As well as live performances  across three stages, the festival also has a strong arts focus, with artisans from the community and the college selling their wares and holding craft-making demos, while culinary students are also on hand serving up regional cuisine and craft beer. Camping is available for those who want that authentic festival experience.

Hocking College, Nelsonville / June each year

Packed crowds at the Black Diamond Music Festival (Photo: Sean Terrell)

The Appalachian Festival

Held along the scenic Ohio River at historic Coney Island, this is one of springtime’s most popular family events. A Mother’s Day Weekend tradition for over half-a-century, it brings Appalachian culture to life. During the festival, Coney Island is transformed into a mountain-life village, celebrating the area’s rich Appalachian heritage, complete with traditional Appalachian music, handmade crafts, storytelling, dancing, educational exhibits, mouthwatering food, and much more. Proceeds go towards grants for organisations and individual artists involved in promoting Appalachian culture.

Coney Island, Cincinnati / May each year

A performance at the Appalachian Festival (Photo: Appalachian Festival)

Urbana Black Heritage Festival

Created for the purpose of remembering important people and local events in the history of Urbana, this festival has a mission to bring the local community together to learn, share and celebrate black families over generations. A day-long family-friendly event, it features a vendor market showcasing local small businesses, heritage displays from local families, food trucks, live performances by local musicians and spoken word artists, and a car show starring a number of luxury collectors cars.

Venues across Urbana / June each year

WonderStruck Festival 

Great live music, first-class culinary and artisanal experiences, children’s activities and educational events, are just some of what visitors can expect at this weekend-long summer festival, held on the beautiful campus of Lakeland Community College in Kirtland. Headlining the festival in previous years has been Grammy-nominees The Lumineers, while notable acts including Vampire Weekend, All Time Low, Tai Verdes and Saint Motel have also appeared on the line-up. Between sets, visitors can sample snacks and heartier fare, or peruse the vendor villages filled with artisan goods, art displays, games, and more.

Lakeland Community College, Kirtland / July each year

Winter Werk Out Music and Arts Festival

Created and hosted by Dayton rock band The Werks, this renowned music and arts festival takes place at the 230-acre live music venue and campground of Legend Valley. Held for over 12 years, the summer festival attracts an impressive line-up of established and emerging names, including the likes of Andy Frasco & The U.N., lespecial, Doom Flamingo, Melt, Hannah Wicklund, Couch, Eggy, Zoo Trippin’, Aaron Kamm & The One Drops, Dustin Smith & The Daydreamers, Chalk Dinosaur, Friends of the Dead: Grateful Dead Tribute, Baccano. Free on-site camping is included with every ticket.

Legend Valley, Thornville / July each year

A musician soaks up the adulation of the crowd at Winter Werk Out Music and Arts Festival (Photo: Winter Werk Out Music and Arts Festival)

Cincinnati Music Festival

First held way back in 1962, this vibrant music festival has gone from strength to strength, evolving into a spectacular two-day event slap bang on Cincinnati’s scenic riverfront, and drawing more than 50,000 people annually from across America and beyond. Starting out as an all-jazz concert, it now features a diverse programme of music from some of the biggest stars in R&B, jazz, soul, and hip-hop, as well as up-and-coming artists. Past performers have included such notable luminaries as Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder and many others.

Andrew J. Brady Music Center & Paycor Stadium, Cincinnati / July each year

Ohio Fish & Shrimp Festival

Ohio’s freshwater shrimp harvest never fails to generate an impressive yield, and this festival celebrates the annual occasion by offering a vast array of delicious seafood selections, along with tub-thumping live music, multiple vendors, and fun-packed games, activities and other entertainment for all the family. There are also fascinating displays of fish, frogs, turtles and other native critters, while a fish farm market gives visitors the chance to take their wares home with them to rustle up a fish-based dinner. Other highlights include trout feeding demos and a sturgeon pool.

Freshwater Farms of Ohio, Urbana / September each year

Hungry guests line up for food at Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival (Photo: Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival)

Cleveland Oktoberfest

Cleveland’s notable contribution to the global German phenomenon of Oktoberfest celebrations takes place each year on Labor Day weekend, and features the very best in Bavarian culture and heritage. There’s authentic polka dancing, live music, arts and crafts, lashings of beer, wine and liquor, plus traditional German sausages and time-honoured beer brewing demonstrations. Visitors will also want to look out for such quirky goings on as wiener dog racing and beer stein-holding competitions. Proceeds from the festival go to a whole host of worthy local causes.

Berea Fairgrounds, Berea, Cleveland / September each year

Polka musicians at Cleveland Oktoberfest (Photo: Cleveland Oktoberfest)

Cincinnati Coffee Festival

Home brewing enthusiasts, dedicated coffee aficionados, and anyone who simply loves a good cup of coffee all come together for this annual celebration of the sacred bean. A truly regional affair, visitors descend from far and wide to sample free coffee tastings, along with mouth-watering pastries and other delectable foodie treats. Among the exhibitors each year are world-class roasters, acclaimed coffee shops, purveyors of fine foods, and professional baristas, while interactive demos showcase the very latest in coffee equipment and coffee-making techniques.

Cincinnati Music Hall, Cincinnati / October each year

Stall-holders at the Cincinnati Coffee Festival (Photo: Cincinnati Coffee Festival)

Lorain Winterfest

Helping get the city of Lorain into the Christmas spirit, this hometown celebration sees many events taking place throughout downtown. The focal point of the occasion is the magical parade that runs from 9th Street and Broadway Avenue to Veterans Park, followed by an evening of fun and activities including Christmas carolling, live entertainment, fireworks and a tree lighting ceremony. Other highlights include a display of Christmas trees with decorations representing countries from around the world, live music, ice carving, carriage rides, crafts, balloons, face painting, and a visit from Santa himself.

Downtown Lorain / November each year