Like many vibrant American cities, Cleveland is a cultural melting pot.
Estimates recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that the Cleveland area is one of the most diverse regions of the state, with large populations of Latinx, Hispanic, Black, and Asian residents.
Every year, the city celebrates this fact with an abundance of cultural festivals to honor its heritage and diversity. These are a fantastic way to get to know Cleveland and its people.
Cullen Fischel of Cleveland says all that’s left is to figure out how to enjoy as many festivals as possible during the year.
One World Day
Usually held in late August, One World Day has been celebrating the diversity of Cleveland for nearly 80 years. Held at the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, this multi-day event typically includes a naturalization ceremony, dozens of gardens representing an array of cultural backgrounds, a parade of flags, and much more.
At the most recent festival, representatives from 56 cultural communities participated, including members of organizations such as the Brazilians in Cleveland and the United Moroccan American Association of Cleveland, Ohio.
Each garden offers unique food and drink choices, such as meat pies at the Lebanese garden and pierogies at the Ukrainian garden, as well as individual events like dancers in the Irish Garden and live music at the French garden.
Cleveland Asian Festival
One of the first cultural festivals of the year is also one of the best. The Cleveland Asian Festival, typically held during the third week of May to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, is a mix of live entertainment, food, and cultural performances of various Asian institutions, like sumo wrestling.
Don’t miss the world marketplace either, filled with over 100 one-of-a-kind vendors and exhibitions. There’s also the Cleveland Dragon Boat Race Festival, which is held annually in mid-September.
Cleveland Pierogi Week
Cleveland has long been home to a large Polish population, so of course the iconic dumpling dish from Poland gets its own week-long tribute. This festival is unlike others, in that it’s focused on learning about the city’s heritage through special pierogi-themed menu items at restaurants throughout the city from late January through early February.
The Tremont Greek Festival
Who doesn’t love an exuberant Greek festival? Also held in May, this one has a little bit of everything related to Mediterranean culture, including tasty Greek cuisine from local restaurants, dancing, and shopping in the city’s Tremont neighborhood on the west side.
Simply Slavic Heritage Festival
One of the more unique cultural offerings of the year, this festival in nearby Youngstown offers everything Slavic for one day in June. The signature event in this celebration of Eastern European culture is the annual parade, followed by an array of distinctive Slavic foods to try, which is often a first for many visitors.
The Rest of the Best
• June: The Ohio Scottish Games and Celtic Festival in Wellington is epic, with log hurling and lots and lots of bagpipes and pipe-and-drum bands.
• August: The Little Italy Feast of the Assumption is a nearly 130-year-old tradition that has become part street fair, part food festival.
• September: The Cleveland Labor Day Oktoberfest is the largest outdoor celebration of German culture in the city, with games, music, and yes, lots of beer.
• October: The Ohio Swiss Festival, held since 1953, lets visitors sample wines, watch marching bands, enjoy as much Swiss cheese as possible, and participate in some traditional games such as Steinstossen, a stone-throwing sport.