We’ve picked 10 must-see events for the upcoming year that will make your visit to the region memorable, and, just maybe, unforgettable.
After a year that brought the smash success Blink Cincinnati event that lit up downtown with dozens of light-based art installations, the birth of everyone favorite adorable hippo Fiona and another season of record attendance for the FC Cincinnati soccer team, 2018 is already promising even more amazing highlights and special events to look forward to.
Cincinnati’s Beer Trail Meets Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail
You can now enjoy hometown brewed goodness on both sides of the river as the Ohio River Valley’s rich beer heritage, and the country's 1st official Brewery Heritage Trail, officially joins Kentucky’s landmark bourbon trail (link: http://kybourbontrail.com) as its newest gateway.
Thanks to the growth of five up-and-coming distilleries — New Riff Distilling, Second Sight Spirits, Boone County Distilling Co., Old Pogue Distilleryand Neeley Family Distillery and Northern Kentucky’s most popular bourbon bars: Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar (with more than 600 bottles of domestic bourbon and whiskey) and Wiseguy Lounge, a speakeasy with more than 100 bourbon options, you can now wash down a day of exploring Cincinnati Brewery Heritage Trail with a taste (or hundreds of tastes) of bourbon.
Learn more and start planning your trip, here.
Union Terminal Becomes the New Showstopper in Cincinnati’s Historic Preservation Collection
Cincinnati has a reputation for preserving its historic buildings and repurposing them into the hip new neighborhood destinations. In November 2018, Union Terminal, one of the city’s most cherished icons and widely regarded examples of Art Deco architecture, reopens to the public after an extensive, two-year and $212 million facelift. The building, known as the inspiration of the Hall of Justice in the “Super Friends” cartoon from the 1970s, opened in 1933 and was one of the busiest train depots in the nation until it closed in 1972. Today its home to several of the city's most celebrated museums.
Other preservation projects to bookmark are the anticipated BBQ/music joint in a former industrial warehouse building in city's historic Pendleton neighborhood (walking distance to the popular OTR neighborhood), the Cincinnati’s first minority-owned brewery, Esoteric Brewing Company in Walnut Hills’ storied Paramount Building and the historic OTR Woodward Theatre in OTR’s marquee restoration funded by a National Geographic Society Main Street Preservation grant.
The American Premiere of Pink Floyd’s "Another Brick in the Wall"
The operatic take on one of progressive rock’s most iconic albums will debut in July at Cincinnati’s historic, recently renovated Music Hall. The epic production of the 1979 rock opera exploring isolation and abandonment premiered in Montreal in 2017 and will land in town supported by the 70-piece Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, as well as 8 soloists and a 48-member chorus digging into one of the band’s most cherished, and theatrical, works. Show dates: July 20, 21, 26, 28 & 31, 2018. For ticket information, https://www.cincinnatiopera.org/the-wall/.
#TeamFiona Still has Our Heart
If you don’t know who Fiona is then you really weren’t paying attention last year. The beautiful, bounding baby hippo captured the world’s attention thanks to her miraculous survival after a premature birth. She may no longer be a baby after marking her first birthday on January 24, 2018 and weighing in at more than 600 lbs, but her national spotlight isn’t dimming anytime soon. We can’t wait to continue to watch our no-so-little hippo continue to grow and steal hearts in 2018. Head over to @cincinnatizoo to stay up-to-date.
Cincinnati, the Country’s Emerging Music Festival Destination?
Get out your most comfortable concert shoes, because you’re going to need them for Cincinnati’s marathon 2018 Music Festival Lineup.
Cincinnati natives The National, kick off the year with the inaugural Homecoming festival, April 28-29. The grammy-winning band has promised a curated roster of 20 hand-picked bands that will join them for sets at downtown’s Smale Park paired with arts experiences across the city.
Bunbury Music Festival (June 1-3) takes over Sawyer Point with four stages on the banks of the Ohio River and a jam-packed lineup led by Jack White, The Chainsmokers, Blink-182, Incubus and 40 additional bands. Next, the 55-year-old Cincinnati Music Festival presented by P&G brings the best of classic and contemporary R&B acts to more than 80,000 fans at Paul Brown Stadium from July 26-28.
Ubahn Fest takes place in the fall literally under the streets of Cincinnati in the world’s largest transit tunnel with a lineup sure to include the trendiest in EDM and rap. Also in October, the long-running MidPoint Music Festival brings some of the most admired and promising rock, folk, country and indie bands to two iconic downtown venues for three days and nights.
Pro Sports Galore
Gear up. 2018 will be another big year of professional sports in Cincinnati. Hop along the Ohio Riverfront Banks neighborhood to see the Reds, Bengals and the Cincinnati Cyclones or head up to the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium to catch an FC Cincinnati match (ok, not yet a professional team, but how could the MLS not pick Cincinnati after last year’s insane record-breaking attendance and tournament run). Add in the annual ATP/WTA tournament, Western & Southern Open, in late summer and there’s almost always a game to attend all year long.
Roll Tape… Presenting Cincinnati, the Hollywood of the Midwest
Cincinnati’s historic Italianate architecture, rolling hills and riverfront served as backdrops to several recent films including the award-winning Carol starring Cate Blanchett, the Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead, and the recently premiered The Public featuring Emilio Estevez. In 2018, the city takes center stage again with movies with a Ted Bundy biopic starring Zac Efron and Lily Collins currently filming in town and the anticipated premieres of Robert Redford's final film, The Old Man and the Gun, Bruce Willis' latest film, The Reprisal, James Franco's directed, starred and produced film The Long Home and more.
Cincinnati’s Bar Scene gets a Colorful Addition: Tokyo Kitty
Cincinnati has seen an explosion in unique bar experiences over the past few years, but perhaps none is as cutting edge as the third high-concept bar from the city’s burgeoning night-life tastemaker Jacob Trevino. As with his other two movie-themed bars (The Shining-inspired Overlook Lodge and the Quentin Tarantino-inspired speakeasy Video Archive), Tokyo Kitty takes its cue from the cult classic, 2003 Bill Murray-Scarlett Johansson film, Lost in Translation. Picking up on that film’s obsession with all things karaoke, the new bar features an entrance that mimics the feel of the concourse at the Tokyo airport, as well as an intimate dance floor, seven private karaoke rooms and, yes, robot drink servers.
Festivals, All Year Long
This city loves to come together in celebration. From the large festivals like Oktoberfest (Cincinnati plays host to the largest Oktoberfest celebration in the world outside of Munich) to the smaller niche gatherings like the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, we’re looking forward to attending them all. A new festival on our radar this year: the inaugural OTR Film Festival. An expansion of the ReelAbilities Film Festival, the festival will feature films celebrating disability, diversity, and difference over four nights in September and incorporate community arts events and street fairs throughout the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
Endless Arts Experiences
Cincinnati is an arts-loving city. Home to the nation’s first and largest community campaign for the arts and a trio of newly restored and developed theatres, the city’s arts and culture scene is not to be missed.
2018 highlights include ArtsWave Days free events at art spaces throughout the region, street artist SWOON at Contemporary Art Center through February 25, Terracotta Army: Legacy of the First Emperor of China at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Monthly Final Fridays artwalk and gallery night in OTR, new ArtWorks public murals and so much more. Head to Cincy Arts Event Calendar for upcoming events, exhibitions and shows.