The outdoor stage at the 2021's Cincinnati Fringe Festival | Photo credit: Jeff Burkle

BLINK®, illuminated by ArtsWave, returns to the Cincinnati region October 13-16, 2022. While it is the biggest event in terms of attendance in Cincinnati history, it is far from the only major recurring arts and cultural event. In 2022, BLINK headlines an impressive lineup of arts festivals and special events that enliven local neighborhoods and put Cincinnati on the map.

That lineup is already well underway. From April 6-10, the Contemporary Arts Center hosted its third annual This Time Tomorrow performing arts festival. Just a month later, Cincinnati Ballet concludes its ongoing season by launching the new Bold Moves Festival from May 12-22. Bold Moves turns what was once a single event into six rotating mainstage productions, plus guest artists, talks, dance classes, after-parties and more. The May Festival, the oldest continuous choral festival in the Western Hemisphere, returns to Music Hall from May 20-22.

From June 3-18, the Know Theatre of Cincinnati fills Over-the-Rhine with innovative, adventurous theatrical experiences through the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. After two years of all virtual and outdoor events, this year marks a return to form in many ways for the festival. The Know will reopen its main stage as an in-person venue for the first time since 2019. The neighboring Art Academy of Cincinnati will also return to Fringe, offering five rooms for performance venues.

"Back to normal" could never quite describe a festival that bills itself as "Kinda weird. Like You." For example, this year, the outdoor stage not only remains, but it will expand into a community gathering space. Fringe producer Katie Hartman explains, "We learned a lot from bringing productions outside. It's important that we have a place to gather that is open and inviting." To foster than atmosphere, the outdoor space will have no fences or barriers. Every event and performance there will be free, and as long as the sun is up, appropriate for all ages.

Cincy Fringe also hopes to offer new ways to engage local businesses. Cincinnati is one of only 27 cities in the United States to host a Fringe Festival. Artists and patrons alike visit from out of town to take part. Hartman comments, "[Theater] is fueled by collaboration. Artists are passionate about the things they discover…we can expose so many patrons to what Cincinnati has to offer in ways they might not even be thinking of."

The Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival, produced by LADD, runs July 7-10, a few weeks after Fringe concludes. According to TT Stern-Enzi, the Film Festival's artistic director, last year's edition "catapulted us in some surprising ways." For one thing, the hybrid in-person and virtual format quickly proved important to fulfilling LADD's mission to empower all people with developmental disabilities to live, work and connect. There are around 16 ReelAbilities Festivals in the U.S., but, as Stern-Enzi points out, that leaves millions of Americans with disabilities out — especially those with mobility limitations. The virtual attendance option, he concludes, is here to stay.

Another boon for the festival in 2021 was the lineup itself, which consisted of close to 45 films, either selected from nearly 400 submissions or curated by festival organizers. The film chosen to headline their closing night, weeks before it premiered on Apple TV+, was "Coda." That selection gave Cincinnati the distinction of hosting the only film festival outside of Sundance to showcase the winner of this year's Academy Award for Best Picture. "Based on the reputation we've been able to build, we have some really strong titles this year," Stern-Enzi says, stressing that the selection process strives to give diverse audiences a chance to see their own stories represented on screen.

Just after the OTR Film Festival, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC) kicks off their annual FREE Shakespeare in the Park Tour on July 15. It's one of the nation's largest summer Shakespeare offerings, attracting more than 10,000 visitors to over 50 parks each year, according to CSC's director of marketing and data analytics Jeanna Vella. The far reach of the series means that almost 70% of their audiences are in neighborhoods with little or no available arts experiences. This year, the tour features a single production: Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." With only one title to plan for, Vella notes that audiences can expect even more production value behind each performance.

Throughout the year, artists and arts organizations present festivals and special engagements that make the Cincinnati region uniquely vibrant. The creative infrastructure the sector cultivates helps make one-of-a-kind experiences like BLINK possible. To help keep that infrastructure healthy, make your gift to the annual ArtsWave Campaign at


BLINK is a trademark of the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation exclusively licensed by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.