Celebrating 50 years of free family fun at Festival of the Arts


This weekend Festival of the Arts is Celebrating 50 years of free family fun and there’s so much going on we’ve brought in executive director David Abbott to help us preview the big event.

>>> Take a look in the video above. 

About Festival of the Arts

The 50th Annual Festival of the arts will kick off at noon on Friday, June 7 in downtown Grand Rapids.  Fifty years ago, Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse was installed in front of City Hall in downtown Grand Rapids. The 43-foot-tall, vibrant red stabile, which became known as “The Calder,” inspired the celebration now known as Festival of the Arts. The Festival Board of Directors along with hundreds of volunteers are excited to provide a weekend full of the best art, food and talent the region has to offer. 

Festival of the Arts is a free, three-day community event celebrating every discipline of the arts including dance, music, literature, media, visual arts and design. The event will celebrate 50 years in 2019 and will take place June 7-9 in downtown Grand Rapids.

This year’s event features tried and true favorites such as an indoor art exhibition known as The Regional Arts Exhibition hosted at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s Fed Galleries as well as several new additions. 

A few highlights for the 50th year include:

  • Opening ceremonies with Mayor Bliss on Friday, June 7 on Calder Stage at 7:30 p.m.
  • Dogs are allowed on leashes at Festival of the Arts
  • Several local food trucks will be participating in this year’s event and will be located on Monroe Center alongside the GRAM
  • Official Festival Beer Amber of the Arts by Perrin Brewing is available at several downtown bars and restaurants
  • 16 food booths run by area non-profits featuring cultural foods and beverages
  • Free kids activities including Paint-In, Glue-In and more
  • 50+ art sales tents on Calder Plaza
  • 5 main stages and 4 pop-up with music, theatre and dance
  • A world premiere performance by the Grand Rapids Ballet on Saturday, June 8 on Calder Stage at 7 p.m.

Festival hours are:

  • Friday, June 7: 10 p.m.  11 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 8: 10 a.m.  11 p.m.
  • Sunday, June 9: 10 a.m.  8 p.m.

Estimated attendance for the weekend-long event has been more than 300,000 in past years.  Grand Rapids Police Department and Life EMS will be providing security and medical services for the event.  All sidewalks will be open for attendees and parking ramps throughout the city will be open and accessible.

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