Cincinnati Music Festival (photo: Louis Rideout)
Cincinnati Music Festival (photo: Louis Rideout)

A Local Tradition

The Cincinnati Music Festival has been an iconic event in Cincinnati history, featuring dazzling lineups and drawing hundreds of thousands of attendees. Originally called the "Ohio Valley Jazz Festival", this weekend-long event began in 1962 and has featured legendary headliners such as: Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle and Erykah Badu. This list goes on, and is archived online. This festival has a long history of bringing top artists together, creating a celebration of music and culture. 

After a two-year hiatus, CMF returns in 2022 with a lineup of incredible performers and a slew of additional events for attendees to take advantage of while in town. Whether this will be your first festival, or if you've been going for years - Cincinnati Music Festival 2022 is not-to-be missed!

The Main Event

Cincinnati Music Festival returns in 2022 with three nights of lineups, running from Thursday, July 21 to Saturday, July 23. Thursday is a new addition to the traditional lineup, and that evening's performances will take place at a brand-new venue. 

The Lineup:

* At the Andrew J Brady Icon Center:
  • Thursday, July 21: Ari Lennox, BJ the Chicago Kid, and Arin Ray

* Paul Brown Stadium:

  • Friday, July 22: Charlie Wilson, Fantasia, Anthony Hamilton, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Jonathan Butler
  • Saturday, July 23: Janet Jackson, The O'Jays, Tank, After 7, Kirk Whalum

There's so much to see and do throughout the Cincinnati region, we hope you'll stay a few extra days when you're in town for Cincinnati Music Festival this year. Use this guide to explore Unmistakably Cincinnati experiences, dining, shopping and more located near where you'll be staying. 

Where to Start?

First things first: be sure to buy your tickets ahead of time. If you need a hotel, check out this offer for a buy-one-get-one-free ticket package (offer valid through 7/19/22). Getting around downtown is easy, with different options available to you.

  • The Cincinnati Bell Connector is a great, free option for public transportation in the downtown area. 
  • Cincinnati Metro bus is another way to get around - especially if you're looking to travel outside of the immediate downtown area. 
  • There are also rideshare options: Uber, Lyft, etc, as well as traditional taxi and black car services

Festival Parking

If you plan on staying downtown for the entire festival, there are many easy options for overnight parking. You can find a list of long-term lots here, along with information regarding rates. Don't worry about moving your car during your stay - there are endless options for dining, drinking, and additional entertainment in the immediate downtown area that are either walkable or easy to reach using public transportation or rideshare. 

For those driving in just for the concerts - parking is available at Paul Brown Stadium, as well as at The Banks lot. We recommend developing your parking plan prior to traveling downtown, and having a back-up option in mind just in case. No worries, even though lots may fill up, there is more than enough parking space for all festival attendees. 

Special Events Throughout the Week

In addition to the music lineup, there are other local events for festival-goers to take advantage of.

Wednesday, July 20

  • Enjoy a free, family-friendly screening of "The Lion King" in Washington Park 

Thursday, July 21

Friday, July 22

  • Attend a panel discussion at Vibe Cincinnati's "The Untold Speaker Series". Featuring Victoria Eady Butler, Dr. Gina Paige, and Joi Brown. Secure your free tickets here
  • Attend a panel discussion at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center about the history of voting rights and suppression. 
  • Sample a variety of foods before or after the concert at Cincy Soul: The Black Taste, taking place on 5th Street, adjacent to Fountain Square, until 2 a.m.
  • Browse booths of clothing, accessories and more just outside of Paul Brown Stadium at Festival 513, from 6 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Saturday, July 23

Sunday, July 24

Visitor's Guide

Below is a guide to what to do, eat, and where to stay - no matter where you're staying during festival weekend. 

Downtown

Cincinnati Music Festival (photo: Louis Rideout)
Cincinnati Music Festival (photo: Louis Rideout)
Whether you’re staying in downtown Cincinnati or Over-the-Rhine, or just spending your days in the urban core, here are some can’t miss-items in the heart of the region.

Nearby Cultural Cincinnati experiences

Where to Eat

Where to Hang

Where to Shop

Uptown

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (photo: Kathy Newton)
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden (photo: Kathy Newton)

Staying just outside the city center near University of Cincinnati, Rookwood/Norwood/Hyde Park and the surrounding neighborhoods? Be sure to stop by some of these local favorites.

Nearby Unmistakably Cincinnati experiences

  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden - Visit the #1 zoo in the nation according to USA Today's 2019 Summer Readers’ Choice poll.
  • Cincinnati Art Museum - A free museum with a number of rotating exhibits.
  • American Sign Museum - Take a 100+ year journey of the past at the largest public museum in the country dedicated to signs.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe House - Explore the Walnut Hills home where this author lived during the formative years that led her to write the best-selling novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Where to Eat/Hang/Shop

Northern Kentucky/South

The Purple Poulet, part of The B-Line (photo: Samuel Greenhill)
The Purple Poulet, part of The B-Line (photo: Samuel Greenhill)
Here are some nearby options if you're staying near the river in Covington or Newport, Kentucky or bit farther south of the river like Erlanger or Florence.

Nearby Must-Do Cincinnati experiences

  • Newport Aquarium - Touch a stingray, go eye-to-eye with rare white alligators, and dare to walk above the sharks on the world's first suspended rope bridge at this aquarium located at Newport on the Levee.
  • BB Riverboats - Step aboard for amazing views of the Cincinnati skyline and riverfront areas from the Belle of Cincinnati or the River Queen.
  • The B-Line - Create your own unique bourbon experience at distilleries, bars and restaurants in Northern Kentucky.
  • Ark Encounter - Tour this life-size Noah's Ark towering higher than four stories and stretching more than 1.5 football fields long.

Where to Eat/Hang/Shop

North

Kings Island (Photo: Kings Island)
Kings Island (Photo: Kings Island)

Staying north of the city in areas like Blue Ash, Sharonville, Kenwood, Springdale, West Chester or Mason? Here are some places to include in your itinerary.

Nearby Unmistakably Cincinnati experiences

  • Kings Island - Enjoy world-class fun and thrills on more than 100 rides and attractions throughout Kings Island and Soak City Water Park.
  • Jungle Jim’s International Market - Browse this wacky, gargantuan jungle of a supermarket with hundreds of thousands of products from more than 70 countries.

Where to Eat/Hang/Shop

West

Cincinnati Skyline (photo: CincinnatiUSA.com)
Cincinnati Skyline (photo: CincinnatiUSA.com)

Whether you're west of the city or nearby in Indiana, consider some of these options.

East

Coney Island (photo: Coney Island)
Coney Island (photo: Coney Island)

If you're staying near Mariemont, Loveland, Eastgate or farther east, enjoy some of these options nearby.