Inside the Mile

Experience a summer of amazing music, food, and culture at the Scioto Mile

In 2017 the Scioto Mile will host many returning and some new large scale vibrant events. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for these FREE annual events:

Dragon Boat Races

West Bank Park | May 21
Dragon boat 2
Central Ohio’s only dragon boat race is a sport for all. The dragon boat carries a team of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steer-person. Teamwork and synchronicity move the boat to the beat of the drum – it’s about paddling as one and having “heart.” Crews from local businesses and community organizations vie for the championship in a day-long event held at the downtown bend of Scioto River.

Columbus Arts Festival

Bicentennial Park, Genoa Park, West Bank Park | June 9-11
2016 Columbus Arts Festival Sunday
The Columbus Arts Festival is a three-day event along the downtown riverfront featuring 300 nationally acclaimed visual artists; performance stages with music, dance, theater and spoken word; hands-on arts activities; work by local artist collectives and a wide selection of quality food and beverages.

Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival

Bicentennial Park and Genoa Park | June 16 & 17
The Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival and Parade began in 1981 and has grown into the 2nd largest Pride event in the Midwest. Festival goers can enjoy a wide variety of musical and drag performances, shopping, eating and celebrating our diverse community. The Columbus Pride Festival and Parade invites you to help us celebrate our NEW location and 36 years of PRIDE!

Red White & BOOM!

Scioto Riverfront and Downtown Columbus | July 3
Downtown comes alive with the excitement and anticipation of BOOM! – the most recognized firework display in the Midwest. Spend the day at the Scioto Mile with your family and friends celebrating Independence Day. Music, food and kid’s activities will keep everyone entertained throughout the day.

Jazz & Rib Fest

Bicentennial Park, Genoa Park and West Bank Park | July 21-23
Jazz and Rib Festival, Columbus Ohio
Presented by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, this highly anticipated summertime tradition offers both jazz and rib connoisseurs the finest in music and barbeque. The festival features three days of continuous jazz while barbeque pit masters serve up sizzling ribs, chicken and more. Savor the best ribs from around the country as 23 award-winning barbeque teams compete for “Best Ribs” bragging rights.

Festival Latino

Genoa Park | August 12 & 13
Festival Latino, Columbus Ohio Festival Latino, the largest Hispanic event in Ohio, is a family-friendly celebration of the Latin American culture, offering children’s activities, music, food, and dance from the heart of Latin America.

Columbus Food Truck Festival

Bicentennial Park and West Bank Park| August 18 & 19
The Columbus Food Truck Festival is moving to the Mile! This two-day event features the best mobile food vendors in Central Ohio, local crafters and live music! This year’s festival will partner with Music Loves Ohio, a local non-profit that offers music education to children.

Curious about more Scioto Mile programs?

Rhythm on the River announcements will be coming soon! Join our mailing list to be the first to learn of programs presented by Columbus Recreation and Parks!

The Blue Jackets Winter Park is back


The Blue Jackets Winter Park is returning for 2017! From February 3 to February 26, McFerson Commons will house a NHL-sized ice skating rink, children’s slide and host community events.

Community Outdoor Ice Rink

Join your fellow skate enthusiasts in the rink for a $5 fee (including skate rental). Prefer to watch the skating instead? The rink is equipped with bleachers and a heated tent for spectators. Private skating sessions are also available upon request. Open skate times are listed here.

Pro Tip: Skate passes at Winter Park are cash only. Nationwide Arena box office accepts cash and credit for skate passes.

Community Events

To kick off the winter park, the Blue Jackets are scheduled to hold a public team practice on Friday, February 10 at 12:00 p.m. at the outdoor rink. The practice will be free and open to the public.

The 5th Line 5K will take place on Sunday, February 5 at 10:00 a.m. The race is unfortunately sold out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t cheer on the runners and walkers! The race starts and ends at Nationwide Arena looping around the river, offering stunning views of the Scioto Mile. Head to the 5th Line 5K website for more information.

Mad River Mountain Kids’ Slide

A kid-friendly 6’ tall 2-lane snow slide is located on the north end of the park. The slide is open Monday – Friday from 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Fulfill your New Year’s Resolutions with Columbus Recreation and Parks!


Do you have trouble committing to your New Year’s resolutions? Here are 5 ways you can take advantage of our parks, events and programs to keep you on track throughout the year…

1. Live a Healthier Lifestyle

Using the cities’ bike paths and parklands, you can walk, skate, jog or bike while observing the striking scenery. The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department also has multiple Community Centers, athletic complexes, pools and golf courses throughout the city that offer a variety of fitness opportunities.

2. Spend Quality Time with Family and Friends

The Scioto Mile hosts many summer festivals that are free to attend and family friendly. Be sure to check our calendar frequently to see what’s happening from week to week. Events you won’t want to miss include:

And for a fun date night or a unique outing with friends, Milestone 229 has amazing food and panoramic views of the river and the Scioto Mile Fountain.

3. Experience More Art

The Rhythm on the River series at Bicentennial Park Performing Arts Pavilion features a diverse range of free music and dance performers on select Friday evenings in the summer. It’s a nice way to end the work week and enjoy local and touring artists.

4. Learn a New Skill

The Cultural Arts Center has classes year round teaching a variety of skills from jewelry making to bronze casting to screen printing. Check The Cultural Art Center’s website to learn more about when classes are offered.

5. Save Money

The Recreation and Parks Department’s parks, programs, events and services are provided for free or at a low-cost for the community. Whatever your goals are, we have many economical ways to make a positive impact on your life. You don’t have to spend a lot to make 2017 a great year!

The Lights Twinkle through January 8


Thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s Grand Illumination a tremendous success! In the spirit of giving, we were proud to partner with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Drop off your letters to Santa in Bicentennial Park at our North Pole Mailbox through December 24 and enjoy the lights along the Scioto Mile through January 8, 2017.

Visit the Grand Illumination event page for more information!

Watch CTV’s Coverage of the Event:

Check out these photos from the Grand Illumination Ceremony:


10 Things to Know About Grand Illumination by Eat, Play, Cbus

Feeling festive? This Friday, the Grand Illumination presented by Justice of the Scioto Mile will bring Bicentennial Park alive with twinkling lights, unique fountain illuminations holiday inspired entertainment and so much more.

Listed below are ten things to know about this FREE event from Columbus blogger Eat, Play, Cbus.

Grand Illumination, Bicentennial Park, Scioto Mile, Columbus Ohio

Grand Illumination, Bicentennial Park, Scioto Mile, Columbus Ohio


Empty Bowls is a wonderful project which works to both raise money and awareness in the fight to end hunger. Over the past 18 years, Columbus has donated over $213,000 for the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. For a $10 donation, you will select a piece of handcrafted pottery and receive a bowl of hearty chicken and dumpling soup courtesy of Milestone 229 or a bowl of delicious tomato florentine soup courtesy of Giant Eagle. A handful of special bowls will be sold through silent auction throughout the evening, including bowls designed by Good Day Columbus personalities. All proceeds will be benefiting the Mid Ohio Foodbank. Taking home this bowl will serve as a reminder of who we can help when we come together.



As friends and family gather to enjoy the beautiful lights and spirit of the season, we pause to remember the little ones who won’t be home this holiday season. Thousands of children will be undergoing treatment and care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital; often miles (or continents) away from those they love. Make sure to stop by the Justice/Nationwide Children’s Hospital booth and send a get well message to a hospitalized child or make a donation. In exchange, receive a special set of HoloSpex snowflake glasses. If you want to, you can send an e-card at anytime. Click here for details.


Also, make sure you’re ready to cheer on Nationwide Children’s Hospital patient champion, Emma, as she helps launch the Grand Illumination.



Look for Hannah with  The Beard and The Baker at the Recreation and Parks Strawberry Food Truck on Main street to warm up! Along with some amazing volunteers, she will be passing out hot cocoa and Cheryl’s cookies.



Make sure you have your camera ready. Santa will  be in the park throughout the event ready to snap a picture with you.



This is one of my favorite parts of  the event – the entertainment! Provided on stage and roaming throughout the park you will find the Columbus Children’s ChoirSupaFun BandThe Amazing Giants, Comedy Holiday Elf Jugglers and Balletmet’s The Nutcracker.


Did you know they were founded in 2011 by Jessica Minshall and have since grown from a one woman show to a staff of 45 subcontracted entertainers and one co-founder?! Not only are they beyond talented, they are the sweetest people. You can tell they are passionate about what they are do – always smiling, stopping to take pictures and talk with you. Every time I see them, I feel like they bring something new to the table – so creative!

Grand Illumination Bicentennial Park, Scioto Mile, Columbus Ohio

Grand Illumination Bicentennial Park, Scioto Mile, Columbus Ohio

Anyone else fascinated by jugglers? I am and I am an even bigger fan of Matt Jergens. Luckily he performs all around columbus. Matt learned how to juggle back in 1993, in his senior year of high school, and hasn’t slowed down. He is an international gold medalist juggler who performs over 300 shows a year at events all across the nation! Lucky for us, he will be at the grand illumination at @TheSciotoMile.


At the North Pole Tinkershop, you can create a holiday craft with OSU Urban Arts SpaceCapital Kids and Franklin Park Conservatory. Make sure to find the Columbus Recreation and Parks’ Fitness Resolution Solution and get moving. Bring the Farm to You are bringing their furry friends for hands-on learning. Don’t forget to look for the Columbus Blue Jacketsbecause they will have exciting prizes and giveaways.



Bicentennial Park is decorated for the holiday with several photo-worthy spots throughout. Find them all and share your experience with @thesciotomile using #lightcolumbus. Hint: The map at the end of the bottom of the page has all the spots!



It can be stressful thinking about where to park downtown, but, don’t worry – this won’t be. The parking garage at 200 Civic Center Dr. offers the closest parking to Bicentennial Park and is easily accessible from Ludlow St. The Columbus Commons parking garage is also a very short walk from Bicenntianal park. The Main Garage is located at 55 East Rich Street, with entrances on Main and Rich Streets between High and Third Streets. After you are done with The Grand Illumination, don’t forget Columbus Commons is beautifully lit. Before leaving, take a walk around. For more information and options, click here.


How beautiful are the lights at Columbus Commons? This will be your view from the parking garage. Photo credit: Columbus Commons Instagram


In keeping with the city’s green initiatives, all seasonal decorations feature energy efficient LED lighting, including more than 250,000 LED lights on 150 trees.



The Grand Illumination continues throughout the holidays and features decorations and lighting in Bicentennial Park, along the Scioto Mile Promenade, on City Hall grounds and throughout downtown Columbus at Columbus Commons and the Ohio Statehouse. The lights will be viewable nightly, from dusk until dawn, December 2, 2016 through January 8, 2017.

Instagram: @thesciotomile  | Hashtag: #lightcolumbus

Click here to download the 2016 Grand Illumination Map

Make sure to follow along on the Live Columbus Instagram for my takeover on Thursday, December 1. I will be sharing a few more details about this exciting event. Also, I will be live updating the event on my Facebook and Instagram the day of the event, as well as talking on Good Day Columbus at 7:20 Friday morning.

Hope to see you all there!

*Special thanks to Megan from Eat, Play, Cbus for creating this post.



As we gather to enjoy the beautiful lights and spirit of the season, our thoughts are with the children who won’t be home for the holidays. Thousands of patients who are often miles – or even continents – away from home will be undergoing treatment and care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Join us for activities that will help us spread cheer to them and their families this holiday season.

Send an e-card here:

Grand Illumination
The Grand Illumination will celebrate the start of the holiday season! Join us as thousands of lights twinkle along the Scioto Mile in Downtown Columbus on December 2 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM. Here’s what you can do in preparation for the event:

  • Follow @TheSciotoMile on Instagram as we give away a prize package every day the week of November 28. Thank you to Justice for providing a very special gift!
  • Tune in to Good Day Columbus on Tuesday, November 29 at 9 AM as Nationwide Children’s patient champion, Emma, talks about the upcoming event.

Emma, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Patient Champion

During the Grand Illumination Ceremony, stop by the Justice and Nationwide Children’s tent to pick up a special set of HoloSpex snowflake glasses and send a special get well message to our patients or make a donation to help support the hospital.

And, don’t forget to cheer on Emma as she helps Santa launch the Grand Illumination!

Snowflake HoloSpexs

Nationwide Children’s Illumination continues the spirt of the season! Visit Nationwide Children’s throughout December to enjoy the beautiful holiday lights surrounding the hospital.

Our Toy and Gift Drive will take place on December 3 from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Stop by with the whole family to make a donation. Learn more at:

Visit Justice Stores now through January 8, 2017 to make a gift to benefit life-saving research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

About Justice

Justice, a division of Ascena Retail Group, Inc. (NASDAQ-ASNA), is the largest tween lifestyle specialty retailer in the world. Known as the premier destination for fashion-aware tweens, Justice provides the hottest fashion merchandise and accessories for tween girls, ages 7–14. Justice celebrates tween girls through an extraordinary experience of fashion and fun in an everything-for-her destination. Today, Justice operates over 950 stores throughout the United States and Canada, along with an international presence in Asia, Mexico, Latin America, and the Middle East. Visit for store information and to shop online.

About Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2016-17 list of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric healthcare systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of more than 11,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.2 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. Nationwide Children’s remains true to the original mission since its founding in 1892 of providing care regardless of a family’s ability to pay. More information is available at

October is for #WomenWhoBike

Did you know that women are less likely to ride a bicycle, either for recreation or transportation, than men? And only 34% of U.S. bike share members are women. CoGo Bike share wants to see more ladies on bikes so earlier this month they launched Women’s Bike Month.

October weather is lovely and perfect for exploring on two wheels, but it can be understandably intimidating if you haven’t been on a bike in a while. Sometimes a little support is all you need. These events are meant to create a comfortable and inviting space for a re-introduction to biking and will have you feeling like queen of the road in no time.

If you don’t have a bike of your own CoGo Bike Share has many locations around town and the online resources to make it easy. With a 24-access pass, you get unlimited 30 minute trips. Perfect for hopping off to enjoy the sites and activities.

Grab a girlfriend and check out the trails along Scioto Mile while the weather is still warm. We made sure to highlight a few areas of interest for your ride. Before you go…HERE are a few more resources for #womenwhobike.


Start at Scioto Audubon Center where you can park your car and pick up a CoGo bike. If you have the time, visit the Grange Insurance Audubon Center or check out one of the many events.

Head north on the Scioto Mile toward Bicentennial Park where you can dock your CoGo bike, making a pit stop at the Cultural Arts Center to check out Dare to be Heard, an exhibition exploring contemporary art created by women about women’s issues.

Travel further up the trail to Town Street where you’ll head east toward downtown Columbus. Dock your CoGo bike at the Columbus Commons before enjoying a snack or meal at one of the many Downtown restaurants.

When you’re finished, cruise back down Main Street to pick up the trail back to the Scioto Audubon Center. Enjoy!


This blog post was created in partnership with Motivate, Operator of CoGo Bike Share.

Columbus Marathon Road Closures

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon is this Sunday, October 16, but road closures along the race route begin today and will impact travel in downtown Columbus through the weekend.

Please note the following street closures at the combined Start/Finish line:

>> Long St. between High St. to the East and Hocking St. to the West will close at 9:30 a.m. On Friday, Oct. 17
>> Spring St. will be closed from West St. to the East, and Hocking St. to the West at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17
>> Neil SOUTH of Nationwide Blvd. will be closed (NOTE: Nationwide will still be open to get to various parking garages).

On Sunday Oct. 19, 26.2 miles of the marathon course will be subject to rolling street closures, based upon the expected time the first and last athlete passes each mile of the course.  Spring Street, Long Street and Neil Ave. will open back up to traffic at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 19.

Check out the race routes here:



Looking for parking information and directions to the race route? Click HERE.

For more information visit

Dare to Be Heard Opens Today

Columbus Cultural Arts Center has put together more than a month of exciting programming surrounding Dare to be Heard, an exhibit curated by Stephanie Rond to give women artists a platform to explore, discuss and have their voices heard on women’s issues.

For more information on the exhibit, its history and upcoming programs, visit: or check out this preview in Columbus Alive.

The public is welcome to the opening reception which kicks off Friday September 23 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Check the map below for recommended parking locations along The Scioto Mile. daretobeheard_parkingmap


The Cultural Arts Center, a program of Columbus Recreation and Parks, is Central Ohio’s premier visual arts center featuring an art gallery highlighting contemporary art and emphasizing emerging artists. The CAC provides hands-on instruction, a learning hub and creative space for Columbus’ hobbyists, designers, artists, makers and art lovers.

Goodbye to Summer, Hello Fall!

Another eventful summer on the Scioto is in the books, but we are ready to turn another leaf in 2016. The Scioto Mile Fountain will soon end its operation until summer 2017, giving way to rich colors and fall fun.

Enjoy a rich, autumnal palate while walking along the trails in downtown Columbus, or join in on any of these “can’t miss” events and activities around the city.

Photo by Doug Buchanan, Business First

September 24 | Fall Harvest Jamboree at Smith Farms
This free fall fest includes everything a family could want to welcome in autumn! With Corn mazes, farm games, arts and crafts, one pumpkin for each child (while supplies last), food sales and more, the City of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department welcomes you to an afternoon celebration of all things fall. Admission is free, parking is $5.00.

September 24: Columbus Common’s Harvest Fair
Celebrate the very best of fall in downtown Columbus. This family friendly event offers everything from hay rides and games to pumpkin patches and crafts. There’s something for everyone foraging to take in autumn. The event is free, but a $5 wrist band can be purchased to experience unlimited activities.

October 1: Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photo-Walk, Sponsored by Canon
Love photographing the Scioto Mile and Columbus? Now you can capture the city’s fall sites for a great cause. The 9th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk, benefits Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya, and takes place at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center.

October 6 – October 28: Columbus Recreation & Parks Community Center Halloween Parties
Columbus’ local community centers are hosting their annual fall harvest and Halloween parties this season!


October 13: Opening Night – Columbus Blue Jackets vs Boston Bruins
As the temperature drops, things are heating up in Nationwide Arena! Welcome your Columbus Blue Jackets back to the ice for opening night against the Boston Bruins.

October 15: Highlights Kids’ Run – Nationwide Children Hospital Columbus Marathon
Each year, hundreds of youngsters take part in the Highlights Kids’ Run! The cost is $10 per child, and each participant receives a medal, hat and post-race refreshments! Events range from the “Diaper Dash” for wee ones, up to .80 mile run for older kids, with a variety of distances for other ages in between. Parking is free.

October 21 – October 30: Boo at the Zoo (Columbus Zoo & Aquarium)
Bring the whole family out to this “merry-not-scary” Halloween event of heroic proportions. Special regions of the zoo are dressed up for this spooky-hooky holiday.

October 15 and October 22: All Hallows’ Eve at Ohio History Center & Ohio Village
Enjoy an evening of family fun at All Hallows’ Eve, with a retelling of the Headless Horseman by the bonfire, pumpkin carving and creepy characters roaming Ohio Village. The whole family can revel in old-fashioned entertainment including fortune telling, crafts, games and more!


Photo: Ohio History Connection


November 18: Holiday Lighting Ceremony at Easton
Watch children’s eyes sparkle as Santa arrives, along with a special guest, to illuminate Easton’s 50-foot Christmas tree and breathtaking display of lights! Cap off the evening’s festivities with a visit to the Easton Station for photos with Santa.

December 2: Grand Illumination on the Scioto Mile
Celebrate the holiday season with the Grand Illumination of the Scioto Mile. The lights twinkle in Bicentennial Park and along the Scioto Mile until mid-January. Including more than 250,000 LED lights on 150 trees, the Scioto Mile Fountain presented by the American Electric Power Foundation comes alive for the holiday season with festive video projections and illuminated spheres suspended from each of the five fountain halos.


(Photo by Randall L. Schieber)