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Your summer guide to arts and culture in Northeast Ohio

Parade the Circle stilt walkers
Jean Marie Papoi
Ideastream Public Media
Plan a summer of food, fun and festivals, such as Parade the Circle, with Ideastream's guide to arts and culture.

It’s Northeast Ohio’s time to shine with arts, culture and fun in the sun. Schedule your free time with this guide to a few of the many events, festivals, beaches, parks, concerts and museums awaiting your senses in 2024!

Pride in the CLE and beyond

As part of Pride in the CLE, the ACLU of Ohio presents Drag is Not a Crime, an evening celebrating drag history and gender expression. It's 6-9 p.m. May 30 at the Music Box Supper Club.

Pride weekend continues with the Rainbow Glow dance party at Twist Social Club on Clifton Boulevard May 31. Starting at 10 p.m., the dance floor beckons and promises to be "a glowing, neon wonderland." Don’t stay out too late, though, as the Parade steps off Downtown at 11 a.m. on June 1.

In Trumbull County, the 5th Pride in the Valley festival takes place on Courthouse Square in Warren at noon on June 15. Organized by the Full Spectrum Community Outreach, they invite all people to celebrate and “have the right to live life to the fullest.”

Akron Pride Festival happens in August, with a 5K run from Canal Place on Aug. 23 and the festival Downtown on Aug. 24.

A large puppet at Parade the Circle in Cleveland
Roberto Galan
Parade the Circle returns to Wade Oval on June 8.

Festivals and food

May 31-June 2

The Little Italy Summer Art Walk takes place all weekend, with exhibits lining the historic portion of Mayfield Road and galleries and studios opening their doors to visitors.

June 7-9 and 16

The lush grounds of Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens in Akron also host some unique historical events throughout the summer. June 7-9 is Founders’ Day weekend, marking the start of Alcoholics Anonymous at the estate. The festivities include a performance by singer-songwriter Marc Lee Shannon, a member of the Michael Stanley Band for 25 years. His two programs on June 7 feature readings from his book, “Sober Chronicles.”

On June 16, it’s Stan Hywet’s 66th annual Father’s Day car show. Among the 400 classic cars on display, this year’s special feature is Italian vehicles.

June 8

The 32nd Parade the Circle fills Wade Oval - and your senses - with music, costumes, masks, puppets and floats. This year’s theme is Visions of Harmony.

June 14-16 & July 19-21 Kiss in Cuyahoga Falls if you’re Irish, or even if you’re not, when the annual Riverfront Irish Festival brings food, music and dance to Downtown, June 14-16. A month later, the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival comes to the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, July 19-21.

July 8-14

Widely considered an authority on summer, take the Beach Boys’ advice and cruise to the hamburger stand for some fun, fun, fun during Cleveland Burger Week. From Avon to Twinsburg to Painesville, restaurants will offer $8 burgers and special pairings all week.

Aug. 2-4

Twinsburg’s 1976 Bicentennial parade featured 36 pairs of twins in a nod to the city’s founders. It was spun off in ’77 and continues today as the Twins Day Festival in Glenn Chamberlin Park.

Aug. 3

There’s no surf in Cleveland, just volleyball and a sandcastle competition as the 2024 AIA Cleveland Sand Festival hits Edgewater Beach.

Aug. 3-4

Cleveland’s 54th Puerto Rican Parade & Cultural Festival kicks off Aug. 3 at noon at MetroHealth Hospital’s main campus. The parade itself is at 11 a.m. on Aug. 4. Entertainment this year includes singers Edwin Lebron and Gaby Zambrano.

Aug. 17-18

The Wayne County Agricultural Society marks its 175th anniversary over two days of events including a donut eating contest, tractor pull, mullet growing demonstration, and a parade at 10 a.m. on Aug. 17 in Downtown Wooster.

Aug. 24-25

The Cleveland Garlic Festival breezes into Shaker Square with live entertainment in addition to the variety of garlicy eats.

Aug. 25

The Cleveland Cultural Gardens are open year-round, but One World Day on Aug. 25 is a chance to learn more about the different cultures represented in Northeast Ohio. The day begins with a naturalization ceremony for new citizens and continues with music, dance and food.

Aug. 30-Sept. 2

Three dozen food trucks come to Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica for Cleveland Taco Fest, while Oktoberfest storms into the fairgrounds in Berea (and continues the following weekend, Sept. 6-7).

A picture of Indians Pitcher Tom Hilgendorf after being hit with a chair during 10-Cent Beer Night in 1974.
Paul Tepley
Cleveland Press collection
Indians Pitcher Tom Hilgendorf was hit with a chair during Ten Cent Beer Night on June 4, 1974. While the Guardians have no plans to mark the 50th anniversary, fans can will celebrate the mayhem.


June 4

The Cleveland Guardians welcome the Kansas City Royals to Progressive Field on the 50th anniversary of 10-Cent Beer Night. While the team has stoutly mashed ideas of commemorating the mayhem, Cleveland’s Collision Bend Brewing Company feels differently. They’re pouring dime glasses from 5-6 p.m.

June 21-22

Extreme sports – Scottish or aquatic – take over Cuyahoga County this weekend. The Ohio Scottish Games & Celtic Festival brings ancient highland games to the county fairgrounds. And the 6th Blazing Paddles Paddlefest invites paddlers to race or just relax on the Cuyahoga River.

July 18-Aug. 5

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival kicks off July 21 with a community parade in Downtown Canton. From July 26-28, the festival takes off with the Balloon Classic, bringing hot air balloons to Kent State University’s Stark campus. The week also includes a concert by Carrie Underwood, the annual Hall of Fame game and numerous chances to interface with the Class of 2024 before - and after - they’re enshrined on Aug. 3 at noon.

And if you can't get enough of balloons-in-Canton, the Big Balloon Build comes to town July 18-22. The traveling event brings 250,000 balloons to the city's Cultural Center for the Arts to create "a mystical folklore and fantasy world."

John Ewing of the Cleveland Cinematheque
Cleveland Cinematheque
John Ewing steps down as director of the Cleveland Cinematheque on June 30. Until then, he's programming some of his favorites in the "Unfinished Business" series.

In the theater

The Cleveland Cinematheque’s John Ewing is winding down his 40-year run as executive director with a slate of films he’s always wanted to program. “Unfinished Business / Parting Glances” is running now and includes everything from “Fantasia” to “Viva Zapata!” On his last day, June 30, he’ll screen three of his personal favorites, concluding with 1953’s “Shane” starring Alan Ladd.

June 7-9

To see “The Little Mermaid” live, you can either grab your scuba gear or head to the Akron Civic Theatre. It’s the 11th production of the All-City Musical, and kicks off at 7 p.m.

June 8-July 28

Wooster’s Ohio Light Opera presents six lyric theater titles throughout the summer: “The Gondoliers,” “The Arcadians,” “The Count of Luxembourg,” “Me and My Girl,” “Guys and Dolls” and “The Sound of Music.”

July 24-27

The BorderLight Theatre Festival returns to Playhouse Square with performances from around the globe spanning drama, comedy, dance and music.

Aug. 6-11

Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia vault from the 1980s to 2024 as Playhouse Square presents “Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue,” a reimagining of Miami’s sassiest seniors.

Downtown Wooster musical performance
Main Street Wooster
Enjoy live performances throughout the summer in Downtown Wooster with their Main Street Music series.

Live music

May 16-Sept. 21

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 6-8 p.m., Downtown Wooster pulses with everything from rock to big band to folk in the Main Street Music series.

May 25-26

Billed as "the best reggae party in Ohio," Reggae Fest returns for two days of love and music on Mall C in Downtown Cleveland. Performers include Carlos Jones, Umojah Nation and the Quasi Kings.

June 9

Legendary British-German progressive rock band Nektar returns to Northeast Ohio for the first time in four years as they play the Beachland Ballroom at 7:30 p.m. The group’s 1974 classic “Show Me the Way” has gained attention in recent years on social media, and the group will play selections from its 55-year career.

June 12-19

ChamberFest Cleveland runs mostly at venues in University Circle, with some excursions around Cuyahoga County. Spotlighting music whether it was written in the 15th century or 15 minutes ago, the first performance is titled “Sacred and Profane” with works by Mozart, Debussy and Mendelssohn. The program starts June 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

June 20-22

Marcus Miller, Take 6, Charles Lloyd and Ledisi are on the eclectic itinerary coming to Cleveland when the 45th annual Tri-C JazzFest envelopes Playhouse Square for three days of music on multiple stages.

June 25-26

See two Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees back-to-back as Janet Jackson and John Oates visit Cleveland. Ms. Jackson takes the stage at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse at 8 p.m. on June 25 with Nelly. The next night, John Oates is at the Agora with highlights from his seven-decade career.

June 29

It’s time to rock the block with Fam Jam at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. This free event includes kid-friendly crafts, activities and, of course, music.

July 10

The show is in Northfield but he’s from Parma. Guitarist and songwriter Neil Giraldo comes to MGM Northfield Park along with his wife, 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Pat Benatar, to play five decades of their rock classics at 7:30 p.m.

July 13

Tequila Fest Cleveland presents Margarita Showdown, a music-and-mixed drink-fueled tribute to Jimmy Buffet. The party happens 3-9 p.m. at Nautica. Or if folk and mead are your speed, visit Hale Farm & Village in Bath for Music in the Valley, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., July 13-14.

Aug. 17

Music is everywhere in Akron’s Highland Square with the PorchROKR Music and Art Festival. In the evening, Franz Welser-Most returns to the Blossom stage in Cuyahoga Falls for his first show of the summer to conduct Tchaikovsky's Fifth.

Dancers at Juneteenth Freedom Fest
Freedom Fest
Cleveland's Juneteenth Freedom Fest takes over Mall C Downtown, June 14-15.

Juneteenth celebrations

June 13

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame starts this year’s Juneteenth celebrations with Black Music Now, a panel discussion examining music, media and the question, “If rock n’ roll emerged from African American music history, why is the music of Black artists often ignored?” Live performances by UNIITY and Nox follow.

June 14-15

Cleveland’s Juneteenth Freedom Fest takes over Mall C Downtown for two days of events including fireworks, a fashion showcase, music and food.

June 15

Celebrate the grand opening of Oberlin’s Underground Railroad Center at 9 a.m. with a day of music, storytelling and a parade to mark Juneteenth.

June 15-July 26

ARTFUL Cleveland presents its third annual Juneteenth art show, with an opening reception June 15 at 6 p.m. Featuring emerging and established Black artists, the show runs through July 26.

June 22

Literary Cleveland marks Juneteenth with "Culture, Community & Liberation," which includes a creative writing workshop, intergenerational dialogue, open mic and a performance by hip-hop group Muamin Collective. It runs noon - 4 p.m. at ThirdSpace Action Lab in Cleveland.

Blossom Music Center and fireworks
Roger Mastroianni
The Cleveland Orchestra
The Blossom Festival Band's "Salute to America" concludes with the traditional fireworks display on June 3.

Independence Day

July 1-4

So many museums are closed on Mondays, but the Ernest Warther Museum & Gardens in Dover opens daily at 9 a.m. This week is a memorial for the master carver’s youngest son, Dave, on what would have been his 98th birthday. Active military and veterans receive free admission to commemorate Dave’s service in World War II.

July 3

The Blossom Festival Band returns to its namesake stage in Summit County with patriotic marches and Broadway favorites in the annual Salute to America, followed by fireworks.

July 3-6

Akron’s Rib, White & Blue Festival returns with fireworks at Lock 3 on July 4 at 9:45 p.m. Along with the tastes and smells of ribs, the air will be filled with music from local acts as well as tribute bands saluting Van Halen, the Doobie Brothers and Styx.

July 7

Close out Independence Day weekend on the Goodtime III with a “Swifties” cruise. The Ladies Night Band plays Taylor Swift favorites as you enjoy the sights of Cleveland from Lake Erie.

Animatronic Dinosaurs
Joe Thompson
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
The Cleveland Zoo’s Dino Cove is open for a limited time this summer.

Exhibits, programs and more…

If you’re old enough to remember the dinosaurs at Cedar Point or actual dinosaurs, then the Cleveland Zoo’s new Dino Cove might bring back some great memories. A collection of more than 25 animatronic dinosaurs is open for a limited time.

The Akron Zoo has events throughout the summer and closes out the warm weather by thanking Summit County residents with free days starting Sept. 1. Tickets are limited and must be reserved in advance.

Beginning Memorial Day weekend, the Hubbard House Underground Railroad Museum in Ashtabula hosts visitors on weekends starting at 1 p.m. Learn the history of the Connecticut Western Reserve and see Civil War artifacts in the home which helped people to freedom.

On June 4, the Hudson Library offers a Downtown walking tour of sites where the Summit County city experienced floods, explosions, fires and accidents, some altering the town's architecture forever.

June 5 is a day to celebrate summer reading at Akron-Summit County Public Library branches, with ice cream in North Hill and Richfield, pizza in Ellet, the Akron ZooMobile in Sherbondy Hill, a magic show in Goodyear Heights and Outback Ray at the Central Park Amphitheater.

Northeast Ohio is home to one of the few dark parks east of the Mississippi River, with Observatory Park in Montville. The environment, unpolluted by light, is perfect for astronomy with evening events throughout the summer. If skies are clear, the park hosts night sky viewing through its Oberle telescope on May 24-25 and June 6, 7 and 22.

Celebrate M.C. Escher's 126th birthday with a visit to the new Museum of Illusions. It opens June 1 in the historic May Company building on Public Square… or does it?

Downtown Akron teems with activity on Wednesdays. A weekly happy hour on Cascade Plaza (5-9 p.m.) includes local music and a cornhole league. And on the second Wednesday of each month, there’s an open mic night at Northside Marketplace. Sign-ups start at 5:30 p.m.

Kick-off National Get Outdoors Month on June 2 with a hike at Mentor Marsh. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Carol H. Sweet Nature Center at 5185 Corduroy Road is open on Sundays all summer, noon - 5 p.m.

Screen legend Katharine Hepburn worked closely with designers throughout her career, pushing for outfits which provided comfort, flattery and movement. “The Hepburn Style: Katharine and Her Designers” opens at the Kent State University Museum on June 28 and runs until 2025.

Several exhibits of Indian, Korean, Andean, Native American and Jewish artifacts are on view all summer at the Cleveland Museum of Art. A photography exhibit, "Picturing the Border," opens July 21 with images from the U.S.-Mexico border taken since the 1970s.

As if President William McKinley's victory in the Spanish-American War wasn't remarkable enough, he also championed… the men's trouser crease. A program August 8 at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum in Canton will discuss how fashion, and world power, shifted on this fashion choice.

Corrected: May 30, 2024 at 10:03 AM EDT
This was updated to correct Burger Week is July 8-14.
Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.