Believe it or not, we’ve made it through another Rochester winter. While it may have seemed never-ending (especially with a cold and rainy May), the sun has finally come out and the city is coming alive for another summer full of fun. If you’re around Rochester this summer season – or thinking of coming back to visit some friends – make sure to take some time and attend at least one or two of the numerous festivals happening throughout all throughout the city.
There are so many festivals and events jammed packed into these next couple months, we decided to create a little cheat sheet for some of the big ones. Each section has your what, when, and where information. We also added in information on costs, parking, and other fun facts to help you navigate and plan for some of the city’s favorite festivals. Here are the basics for our top five ones to check out:
The CGI Rochester International Jazz Festival
Who would have thought that Rochester was home to one of the world’s leading jazz fests? Well, it’s true and something you have to go see for yourself! Every summer, Rochester hosts this top-notch festival, featuring more than 1,500 artists across 20 different stages. This festival brings in more than 200,000 attendees, hosting performances and events throughout the city over a period of nine days.
WHAT IS IT: Annual music festival featuring over 1,500 artists, performing their takes on jazz
WHEN IS IT: Friday, June 21st through Saturday, June 29th
WHERE IS IT: Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, and areas surrounding
WHAT AM I PAYING: Headliners are ticketed and have reserved seating. You can view the prices and schedule for those here. There are plenty of free shows, running from 12-9pm on most days, and no tickets are needed
WHAT ELSE: Since there’s so much going on, try downloading the apps, schedules, and maps off their website to make sure you don’t miss anything! Parking and shuttles are available
Party in the Park
Starting in June, every Thursday night this summer the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park becomes the site of a mini music fest. Featuring three acts each day (with the exception of only two on the last day), the weekly park party features music of all kinds, food, drinks, and other vendors to check out.
WHAT IS IT: Weekly music festival, featuring 2-3 artists each date
WHEN IS IT: Every Thursday night, running from June 6th through August 8th
WHERE IS IT: The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park
WHAT AM I PAYING: Ticket options include general admission (GA), VIP, and a season pass. GA tickets are $7 per show, giving access to first come, first serve seating. If you plan on going to all 9 dates, you might want to look into the season pass – which is $49. It’s highly recommended to bring some extra cash for all the vendors
WHAT ELSE: If you want to view the full list of acts, you can check it out here. Another thing to note: the website says lawn chairs are not allowed – so, leave those home and grab a blanket to sit on instead!
Sure, there’s tons of live music festivals that have food – but are there any focused on food? This is Rochester we’re talking about…of course there are! Midtown Eats runs throughout the summer months, where you can sample tasty bites from numerous local restaurants and vendors.
WHAT IS IT: Pop-up restaurant showcase, featuring local spots from all around the city (some of these include: Rustic Taco Bar, Eat Greek, Chef’s Catering, Frozen Flavors, Twist this, and so many MORE)
WHEN IS IT: Occurs on different Thursdays and Fridays during the months of June-August. Both days have lunch from 11:30-1:00 pm, and Fridays have dinners from 4:30-8:30 pm. The first one is on June 6th and 7th! You can view the whole schedule here
WHERE IS IT: Midtown Commons on Elm Street
WHAT AM I PAYING: Admission is free! Each restaurant offers small plates and drinks for purchase at differing prices
WHAT ELSE: There’s FREE (that’s right – free) parking in the Midtown Garage. If that gets too crowded, there’s also free street parking after 6:00 pm. We know we promised you a food festival – but there is live music played during dinner hours as well. Don’t worry – the focus is still the food!
Corn Hill Arts Festival
The 51st Annual Festival is going to be presenting over 325 artists, with music playing all day across four different stages. Along with food, beer, and wine, there are so many things to experience at this long-standing Rochester festival. As their slogan says, “Come for the art. Stay for it all!”
WHAT IS IT: Arts Festival, featuring numerous types of artists, live music, and plenty of food vendors
WHEN IS IT: Saturday, July 13th from 10 am – 6 pm and Sunday, July 14th from 10 am – 5 pm
WHERE IS IT: The Corn Hill Neighborhood (South Fitzhugh Street)
WHAT AM I PAYING: Admission is free! However, we recommend bringing some money for food, drinks, and possibly purchasing from some of the artists
WHAT ELSE: Shuttles will be available for parking. If you want to check out some of the artists coming, see what music acts are performing, or get more information on the shuttles and parking, you can visit their website here
Park Ave Summer Art Fest
If you’ve been around Rochester, you know how highly renowned the Park Ave. neighborhood is to the Rochester Community. Loved for its architecture, culture, and hip urban atmosphere, the neighborhood becomes the perfect home to over 350 artists and vendors. This two-day festival is not one you’re going to want to miss!
WHAT IS IT: Neighborhood Arts Fest, featuring a 1 ¼ mile long path filled with more than 350 artists, 40 food vendors, and 3 stages for live music and performances
WHEN IS IT: Saturday, August 3rd from 10 am – 6pm and Sunday, August 4th from 10 am – 5 pm
WHERE IS IT: The Park Ave neighborhood – stretching from Alexander Street to Culver Road. Park Ave shuts down the street to vehicle traffic, letting the attendees walk through the neighborhood
WHAT AM I PAYING: Admission is free! Again, we recommend bringing some extra money for the food, the drinks, and of course the shopping from all the vendors (you can view the list of vendors here)
WHAT ELSE: Shuttles are available from the Ample Parking Area at the Gleason Works. For our 21 and older readers, it’s important to note that this is an alcohol-free event! Please be respectful to your neighborhood
Now that we’ve highlighted the basics for our top 5 festivals, we hope you can make at least one of them. Also, make sure to check out some of the other festivals happening in and around Roc this summer:
► Annunciation Rochester Greek Festival – Thursday, May 30th and Friday, May 31st
► Little Italy Festival – Sunday, June 2nd
► Rochester’s Women Bike Festival – Saturday, June 15th
► Western New York Pottery Festival – Saturday, June 15th and Sunday, June 16th
► Roc the Taste Food and Music Festival – Friday, July 26th and Saturday, July 27th
► Rochester Summer Soul Festival – Friday, August 23rd and Saturday, August 24th
With our cheat sheet and list of other festivals happening throughout Roc this summer, you’ll have plenty to do. Let us know your favorites and which ones you’re looking the most forward to in the comments below!