COLUMBIA, MO – The combination of Columbia’s acclaimed-amenities, its easy access to nature, its vibrant community and the large-scale marquee festivals that take place year around is why the city is often listed as one of the best places to live in the country. There’s always something fun and entertaining going on any time of year in this Central Missouri city and its four main festivals capture the spirit of the city and what makes this college town unique.
“Columbia is a destination where residents and visitors alike cherish and value the arts,” says Megan McConachie, strategic communications manager for the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau. “As such, music, literature and film all have their chance to shine with our annual festival lineup. The exceptional talent these festivals draw, along with the spirit of community these events create, makes them memorable and inspires people from around the world to travel to Columbia to attend.”
Below are highlights of the 2022 iterations of Columbia’s largest family-friendly festivals.
WORLD RENOWNED TRUE/FALSE FILM FEST MARCHES INTO DOWNTOWN COLUMBIA MARCH 3-6
The internationally renowned True/False Film Fest celebrates groundbreaking films and filmmakers that push and stretch the boundaries of documentary cinema from March 3-6, 2022.
This four-day celebration of documentary films, art and music has been hailed as one of the top international cultural events to experience by TIME magazine, called the “most vital” film festival in America by IndieWire and repeatedly named one of the “coolest film festivals in the world” by MovieMaker Magazine. True/False sets the standard for other festivals as it combines masterful documentaries with thoughtful Q & A sessions between filmmakers and audiences following each screening as well as thought-provoking panel discussions. The immersive festival experience is complemented by talented busking musicians from around the globe performing before every film screening at each venue and also along the bustling streets amidst the festival-goers moving from one venue to another. Two time-honored festival favorites include the exuberant ragtag March March parade that sees hundreds of costumed characters and musicians take over the downtown streets on Friday afternoon and the popular and hilarious Gimme Truth! game show hosted by American comedian and radio host Brian Babylon on Saturday night. There also are live concerts every night, energetic dance parties, interactive art installations throughout downtown and each festival venue and other entertaining special events during the long weekend. It’s an incredible experience for audiences and filmmakers alike, all set in Columbia’s lively downtown district. For more information, to view the selection of films or to order passes for True/False, visit www.TrueFalse.org.
UNBOUND BOOK FESTIVAL RETURNS TO IN-PERSON EVENTS AND MOVES TO DOWNTOWN COLUMBIA
Nationally and internationally renowned authors will gather in Columbia April 21-25, 2022 for the seventh annual Unbound Book Festival, celebrating literature in its many forms. One highlight for 2022 will be the keynote program with award-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen on April 22 at the historic Missouri Theatre in downtown Columbia. Nguyen won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his New York Times-bestselling debut novel “The Sympathizer.” His follow-up sequel, “The Committed,” was published in 2021 and also quickly hit the best-seller lists.
New for 2022, Unbound will host its world-class authors and poets at cool and interesting venues throughout downtown Columbia. Since its inception, Unbound had taken place on the historic Stephens College campus, but due to the increase in popularity of the festival and for the convenience of festival attendees, the new footprint offers different venues and easy access to the numerous and varied amenities available in the downtown district.
More than 50 authors will be on hand to discuss their craft and creative journey during Unbound’s professional panels and Q & A sessions with attendees focusing on a mix of literary topics. There will be separate programs on fiction, non-fiction, poetry as well as children’s literature, all anchored by critically-lauded writers. There also will be author meet-and-greet opportunities as well as book signings. Admission to all Unbound activities is free, making this festival accessible to literature lovers and bibliophiles from all walks of life. For a continually updated roster of authors and updates for this year’s festival, head to www.UnboundBookFestival.com.
GET CREATIVE AT MID-MISSOURI’S LARGEST ART FESTIVAL, ART IN THE PARK, JUNE 4 AND 5
Summer in Central Missouri gets off to an artful start with the 64th annual Art in the Park Festival, June 4 and 5, 2022. Set amid the blooming beauty of Columbia’s Stephens Lake Park, this juried festival features more than 110 artists from across the country and attracts as many as 14,000 visitors each year. Art on display and for sale includes paintings, photography, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, textiles, fiber and much more and is all handcrafted by the participating artisans. There will be a variety of food and drink vendors offering a wide selection of refreshments interspersed around the park. Festival attendees also can enjoy entertainment from musicians, magicians, fire-jugglers, and stilt-walkers throughout the weekend.
Young artists can make their own masterpieces at the Kids’ Art Spot, visit the Young Collector’s Tent, have their faces painted or design a custom tie-dye shirt. And, admission is free – an early-summer gift for fans of art and fun, sponsored by the Columbia Art League. For more details on Art in the Park, visit columbiaartleague.org/artinthepark/home.
TURN IT UP! MISSOURI’S LARGEST OUTDOOR MUSIC FESTIVAL, ROOTS N BLUES, ROCKS COLUMBIA OCTOBER 7-9
Mark your calendars for the 2022 Roots N Blues Festival! Missouri’s largest outdoor music festival will take place at Stephens Lake Park near downtown Columbia from October 7-9, 2022. Festival organizers promise another fantastic event and will announce the much-anticipated 2022 lineup of artists and how to order passes in early spring.
Roots N Blues showcases a diverse crop of musical acts from around the country spanning nearly every music genre — Americana, blues, bluegrass, country, folk, gospel, rock and roll and soul — all performing on two main stages in picturesque Stephens Lake Park, the festival’s home for the last eleven years. In addition to the main stages, there will be a fully-equipped walk-up “Front Porch Stage” where festival-goers can show off their musical skills and talent. This family-friendly festival also offers a fleet of nearly 20 food trucks, numerous beverage tents, a vendor village and intriguing and interactive art displays decorating the park. There also is a large can’t-miss ferris wheel located near the kids’ activities area that offers festival-goers a birds-eye view of the action from the main stages and sprawling festival grounds. Another unique aspect of Roots N Blues is the Betsy Farris Memorial Run, consisting of a 10K or half-marathon on Saturday morning. For additional information on Roots N Blues, please visit www.RootsNBluesFestival.com.
WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED
This is just a highlight of a few of the exciting festivals going on around Columbia this year. While Columbia’s big events are some of the most popular around the state (and the Midwest), this youthful and energetic city has many options for fun, entertainment, nature and culture year around.
Visitors looking to plan a getaway to Columbia, Mo. can find more information on where to stay as well as all the other fun events, year-around attractions, excellent options for dining and libations available by visiting the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau website at www.VisitColumbiaMO.com or by calling 573-874-CITY (2489).
Columbia features a mix of small town charm and friendliness with the amenities and cultural offerings of a big city. There is always something exciting to see and do in Columbia, so for more information on these and other ways to have fun in Columbia, please contact Megan McConachie at the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau at 573-441-5572 or at VisitColumbiaMO.com.
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