From weekend getaways to big name concerts, summer can be expensive. Go easy on your wallet this summer with this list of fun, free happenings in Downtown Indy. Into working out? Do yoga or zumba outside for free. Love art? Check out the First Friday art tours. Dig music? There are plenty of free concerts.
Got another idea? Add your free Downtown Indy event to the comments section.
Concerts at the Indiana State Fair
The Free Stage at the Indiana State Fair showcases a mix of artists, both up-and-coming musicians as well as some well-known names. This year I am excited to see the Indigo Girls return to the stage (Aug. 7) as well as Rusted Root (Aug. 22). Equally as fun will be the Village People on Aug. 17 and KC and the Sunshine Band on Aug. 20 (you really can’t beat a free performance of Get Down Tonight). All of these shows are free with paid admission to the State Fair. Hint: get advance discount tickets online through Aug. 6 for $8.
Italian Street Festival
Don’t even bother working out the weekend of June 12 & 13. When Italian Street Festival hits Downtown Indy, there is a seemingly endless and delicious supply of homemade spaghetti, fried ravioli, pizza and cannolis to fill the stomachs of hungry Hoosiers. Thousands of people will gather in the streets outside Holy Rosary Catholic Church (near East and Stevens streets) to enjoy 25 different pastas, Italian meats and desserts, plus live music (this year’s headliner is the Flying Toasters) and amusement rides for kids. While admission and parking are free, food and drink will cost you. But fret not: prices are low. Most food items cost between $3 – $5.
Happy Hour Thursdays
The sun is shining, Indy has seen a fair share of 80 degree days… the last thing you should do after work is go inside a dark bar. Every Thursday from 4:30 – 7 p.m., Georgia Street’s center block transforms into a giant Happy Hour, al fresco style. Hang out on the Boardwalk with friends and enjoy good beats from Indy’s best DJs (Helicon, Slater Hogan and Lockstar). Food and drink will cost you, but prices are reasonable for all that deliciousness: steak tacos, baby back ribs and smoked chicken sliders from the Severin Bar range from $5 – $6, domestic and craft brews are $5 and cocktails and wine are $6. The Georgia Street Mule – a summery concoction of 12.05 Vodka, simple syrup and ginger beer – is a must try. Ahh…
Georgia Street is bursting with action this summer! Skip that slice of pizza and opt for an energizing mid-week lunchtime workout instead. Downtown Indy has partnered with the YMCA to provide fun, all-levels group fitness sessions on the Boardwalk. Free Workout Wednesdays reoccur weekly from noon – 12:45 p.m with a local guest celebrity leading the warmup each week. Classes rotate between Hip Hop (May and July) and Zumba (June and August).
To celebrate the summer solstice and the inaugural International Day of Yoga, the Circle City hosts the single largest yoga class in Indianapolis. And it takes place right on Monument Circle. Lay down your yoga mat on the Monument on Sunday, June 21 at noon for the 3rd annual Monumental Yoga. Arrive early for the Yoga Village, which includes a mix of vendors such as Athleta, Bath Junkie, Silver in the City, Whole Foods Market, Ezra’s Enlightened Cafe and even henna artists. Channel your inner yogi and be part of something Monumental.
ArtPrize at the IMA
An international art competition is coming to Indianapolis for the first time. During Artprize, artists will create proposals for an installation on the empty second floor of a Downtown office building located at 250 Monroe. Pitch Night will take place on June 10 at 7 p.m. at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Five selected artists will each give five-minute presentations using five slides. A panel of experts and the audience will be able to ask questions of the artists following the presentations. The panel will select the winner, who receives a $5,000 grant to realize their proposal at 250 Monroe.
Talbot Street Art Fair
Nearly 300 artists from across the nation gather on the north side of Downtown Indy each summer for the Talbot Street Art Fair, continually ranked as one of the top art fairs in the U.S. The art fair takes place June 13 & 14 near Downtown’s historic Herron-Morton neighborhood. Find everything from paintings and sculptures to clothing and jewelry. And remember, browsing is completely free.
Concerts on the Canal
The Indiana Historical Society Terrace is the place to be on Thursday nights in Downtown Indy! Enjoy beautiful sounds and views during Concerts on the Canal every Thursday from 6 – 8 p.m. Free seating is available on the grassy hill across the Canal. Bring your own food and picnic outside or order food from the Stardust Terrace Café and outdoor grill and the Hoaglin on the Rocks bar. Bonus: on concert nights, enjoy free admission to the Indiana Historical Society.
Music + Art Festival
The day-long Independent Music + Art Festival is an outdoor festival featuring local musicians and visual artists on two stages in the courtyard of the Harrison Center. The Festival coincides with the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange, a D.I.Y. contemporary craft fair that is equally as fun and also free to attend (though I guarantee you will end up walking away with a lighter wallet). And if that isn’t enough for you, Duos Indy, Spicebox and Caveman Truck will provide a tasty variety of food options and Sun King Brewery and New Day Craft will serve locally produced beer and mead. Don’t miss energizing electronic-pop duo Dream Chief perform at 6:40 p.m.
Motorcycles on Meridian
Thousands of motorcycles of all types will take over the streets of Downtown Indianapolis on Aug. 7 & 8 for Motorcycles on Meridian, coinciding with the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. All ages are invited to check out the unique sights and sounds around Monument Circle, Meridian Street and Georgia Street. Visit Indy offers footage of the 2013 event here.
Browse more than 25 art galleries on a self-guided tour on the first Friday of every month. The Indianapolis Downtown Artist and Dealers Association (IDADA) First Friday Art Tour venues open their doors from 6 – 9 p.m., with no specific start or ending location. The Stutz Gallery, Gallery 924 and the Harrison Center are just a few of my favorite First Friday stops. Gallery 924 features a different artist every month, with opening receptions (and often a chance to meet the artist) on First Fridays. See Lois Main Templeton’s stunning exhibition “It’s the Way They Mingle” through May 29.