Cleveland Winter Beerfest
At press time, the second annual Cleveland Winter Beerfest is receding into the rearview, and this year's installment was another hit. Think about it: This is a city whose newfound economic strides are built at least partially on brewing tanks. Winter Beerfest features more than 350 craft brews. Local, national, and everything in between: Winter Beerfest is awesome.
There's probably nothing more quintessentially "Cleveland" than a raging music festival spanning multiple city blocks in a craft beer-fueled neighborhood in February. Or, more to the point, outdoors in February. Festival-goers shiver their way through sets from the city's and region's and, in some cases, country's coolest bands. The beer flows like red wine and the food — we love to eat local — is delicious.
Evolving over several decades into a must-attend titan of an event, the Cleveland International Film Festival brings hundreds of films to the theaters at Tower City. All told, the 2014 event saw nearly 100,000 people flock to the movies. With a savvy eye for insightful art and a region that loves good movies, CIFF is only gonna get bigger and better. Film schedules are published in late February.
Maybe you don't know what a "dyngus" is. Maybe you do. (We certainly don't, anyway.) But you know that things are right in the world when some stranger starts spraying you with a super soaker while you're halfway through your third plate of pierogi. Appropriated locally from the world's largest organized Dyngus Day celebration in Buffalo, the Easter Monday festival has become a huge hit in Cleveland.
Hessler Street Fair
Conceived in 1969 as a block party (and later abandoned amid the not-so-hip 1980s), the Hessler Street Fair has evolved into one of the biggest and most involved parties of its kind. It's a free event that sort of opens the floodgates for summertime neighborhood fun in Cleveland. There's plenty to go around — pass it to your left, as they say, or is that something else? — and it all begins at Hessler.
St. Demetrios Greek Fest
This celebration of all things Greek brings thousands to this Rocky River church each summer. It's a huge bash, and the natural segue from stuffing one's face with baklava to dancing with old friends is recognized by all. Listen: We love good food here in Northeast Ohio, and we know that there ain't nothing like a gyro done right. We'll see you in June.
Burning River Fest
We're known nationally for those times the Cuyahoga River caught fire, so we decided to just run with it and make it another reason to party. The Burning River Foundation's annual event is a wonderful blend of good music, good beer, and good ecological awareness-raising. Held at Whiskey Island, the event is a great climactic moment in our Cleveland summers. We hear you can also get a taste of Great Lakes Christmas Ale there too ...
Feast of the Assumption
If you only make it to Little Italy once in a blue moon, you might as well make it during that heady August weekend known as the Feast of the Assumption. While there's a religious angle in there somewhere, we love the festival for its abundance of cultural displays and the delicious food being sold literally everywhere you turn.
Cleveland is innovative. We're home to all manner of creative geniuses, and the whole lot of them tend to show up for this annual celebration of cool stuff. You'll learn a bunch of new things while having a total blast, making this event one of the more unique offerings downtown.
Slavic Village Polish Festival
Polish culture — and, most especially, the food — kinda goes hand in hand with Cleveland's overall vibe. If you want to call this place home — and we know you do — you'd do well to get acquainted with your inner stuffed cabbage. The annual festival at Slavic Village's St. Stanislaus is the perfect place to do just that.
Cleveland Comedy Fest
Back in 2007, Comedy Fest co-founder Joe Hannum and his buddies were kicking around talk of Cleveland's comedy scene and its place in the national community of funny business. "How come Cleveland doesn't have a comedy festival? None of us really knew the answer," he says. "And then somebody, and I don't know who to blame for this, said, well, maybe we should create one. So that's what we decided to do." The event now attracts big names and big laughs from around the country.
CLE Rocks NYE
This is something of a younger tradition in Cleveland: The big New Year's Eve bash. In 2013, the city swarmed Public Square as Drew Carey rung us in. In 2014, Machine Gun Kelly held down the night's entertainment on Mall B. Who knows what's in store for Dec. 31 in the future? Regardless, you should plan on finding out.