The first Festival of the Arts drew about 7,000 people and activities were confined to Vandenberg Plaza, the public square now commonly referred to as Calder Plaza. Today, the event spans multiple city blocks and attracts upwards of 300,000 visitors – always on the first weekend of June each year.
Festival of the Arts has also expanded its scope over the years, encompassing virtually every discipline of the arts – visual art, dance, music, film, literature, design and more. It’s also become one of the city’s favorite food events, as local nonprofit organizations host booths offering a tremendous variety of street foods, including Greek, Polish, Asian, and Latin favorites.
One thing hasn’t changed in 50 years – admission to the first Festival of Arts was free. And it still is today. Festival remains an all-volunteer operation that invites everyone to attend and experience the region’s rich artistic talent.
ArtPrize and Project 1 by ArtPrize have made Grand Rapids a global arts destination. But we’re local first – and Festival of the Arts is the purest expression of that. Come be a part of the 50th anniversary celebration!