Once the weather in Indy warms up, our streets and neighborhoods fill with people and festival season officially kicks off. From live music to outdoor block parties to art fairs, it’s the most festive time of the year! Here are my top 11 not-to-miss summer fests.
Vintage Indiana Wine & Food Festival
June 6, noon – 6 p.m.
$25; $50 for early admission at 11 a.m.; $10 designated drivers
The Vintage Indiana Wine & Food Festival has all the components of a great event: food from local culinary experts, live music and samples of more than 200 Indiana wines. Artist booths will be on-site and live performances from Zanno-Doo, Living Proof and Jennie DeVoe will take place throughout the day. Be sure to bring your lawn chairs and blankets and make a day out of this festival! Attendees must be 21+ to attend.
Christ Church Cathedral Women’s Strawberry Festival
June 11, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (or until food runs out)
Free admission; $2 – $7 for dessert
For 50 years, Christ Church Cathedral has been doling out their incredible strawberry shortcake concoction on Monument Circle for Strawberry Fest (try as you may to replicate it at home, it’s never the same). An estimated six tons of strawberries and 18,000 homemade shortcakes will be consumed by the Downtown public. Orders can be made a la carte, but let’s be honest: ordering “The Works” – shortcake, strawberries, ice cream and whipped topping – in a non-negotiable. Tip: come early to beat the long lines (strawberry shortcake breakfast, anyone?).
Italian Street Festival
June 12 & 13, 5 – 11 p.m.
Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary
Free admission; $1 per food ticket
Holy cannoli! Taste more than 25 different pastas, Italian meats, cannoli and more at Italian Street Festival, a delicious celebration of Italian culture. Thousands of people will gather in the streets outside the church near East and Stevens streets to enjoy fried ravioli (the number one seller last year), meatball sandwiches and other varieties of Italian food. Don’t eat gluten? You can still join in on the fun with gluten-free spaghetti and pizza options. Hint: bring your dancing shoes. Admission is free.
INDIEana Handicraft Exchange
June 13, noon – 8 p.m.
Harrison Center for the Arts
The contemporary craft fair – INDIEana Handicraft Exchange – is a hidden gem in Downtown Indy (and one of my favorites). Find everything from local clothing vendors to stunning jewelry designers to funky headbands to some of Indiana’s favorite brand names including t-shirt producers United State of Indiana and Lick ice cream. There’s a lot of ground to cover so come early, stay the day and bring extra cash for those sterling silver earrings you can’t resist. Modern artwork and crafts, live music, food, craft beer and more make the perfect way to spend a summer day. While attending the fair, take time to wander through the galleries of the Harrison Center for more local art.
Circle City IN Pride Festival
June 13, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
American Legion Mall
Free (suggested donation of $5)
Circle City IN Pride Festival is Indiana’s largest LGBT celebration. The festival includes three stages of live performances, with country star Chely Wright as this year’s headliner. Come early – the Cadillac Barbie IN Parade kicks off at 10 a.m. from the corner of Mass Ave and College. There are several events taking place during the week leading up to the festival, including the Rainbow 5K Run/Walk (tip: come dressed to impress!).
Talbot Street Art Fair
June 13, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and June 14, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Talbot Street (between 16th and 20th Streets / Delaware and Pennsylvania)
More than 270 artists from across the nation gather on the north side of Downtown Indy each summer for the Talbot Street Art Fair, ranked one of the top art fairs in the U.S. Artwork ranges from paintings to sculptures to hand-blown glass to clothing and jewelry. Many love that this festival is free to attend and offers entertainment and exhibits for all ages to enjoy (henna tattoos, anyone?).
June 20, 3 – 7 p.m.
700 Block of Park Ave
$30 in advance; $10 designated drivers
A festival dedicated to craft beer? What’s not to love! Brew-Ha-Ha, one of Indy’s most popular beer festivals, returns for the 20th year to Park Avenue just outside Phoenix Theatre. This 21+ outdoor block party is a fan favorite as beer lovers are invited to taste samples from more than 50 of the best local and national craft breweries. In addition to breweries onsite, enjoy live music and food from local vendors and food trucks. Tip: buy your tickets early. This one will sell out.
Mass Ave Criterium
Aug. 1, 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
$15 – $50 for racers; free for festival
Mass Ave is a shopping and dining destination year-round, but did you know it’s also a sports venue in August? The Mass Ave Criterium brings together more than 400 cyclists to participate in a challenging, triangular, 2/3 mile bike race through the Mass Ave district. After the ride, which kicks off at 9 a.m., cyclists are invited to stay Downtown and enjoy all the bike activities throughout the day. No need to participate in the race: non-cyclists can enjoy the beer garden and live entertainment.
Motorcycles on Meridian
Aug. 7 & 8
Thousands of motorcycles of all types will take over the streets of Downtown Indy 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. Kids are guaranteed to love checking out the uniquely themed bikes (last year’s spider-themed bike featured a live Tarantula).
Aug. 13 – 23, various times
IndyFringe Basile Theater
$15; $10 students/seniors; $kids
Every August, IndyFringe Festival – one of the biggest and most unique performing arts festivals in Indy – takes over Mass Ave. Expect more than 300 performances at eight different venues over the course of eleven days – everything from dance to drama to comedy to magic and more. Because the IndyFringe Festival is unjuried and uncensored, it’s anyone’s best guess what kind of shows will be in the festival. In between shows, hang out at the beer tent at the corner of Mass Ave and College.
Dig IN: A Taste of Indiana
Aug. 30, noon – 5 p.m.
White River State Park
$35 – $120
Indiana’s best farmers, chefs, brewers, vintners and food enthusiasts will gather at White River State Park for Dig IN: A Taste of Indiana, Indiana’s largest farm-to-fork festival. Come hungry (and thirsty): the sixth annual festival will feature tastings of Indiana food, beer, wine and other local refreshments, plus a chance to meet the chefs behind some of your favorite dishes. There’s more to do than just stuffing your face: watch a cooking demonstration or enjoy the live bands playing throughout the park.