10 crazy summer festivals you can only find in Cincinnati

Summer is full of fun festivals of the classic, rides-games-and-food variety.

But Cincy also likes to keep it weird, with some crazy events you have to see to believe! From cardboard boat regattas to adult big wheels races, we’ve rounded up the craziest summer festivals in Cincinnati.

Here are 10 crazy summer festivals you can only find in Cincinnati:

Kings Island Grand Carnivale

Daily through July 7

Think Mardi Gras + your favorite food festival, all at King’s Island! Discover how the world kicks up its heels at Grand Carnivale, a larger-than-life festival celebrating the rich traditions of China, Italy, France, India and Germany. Savor authentic tastes and sips, play lively games, make unique crafts, be mesmerized by our extravagant parade and top off the night at the party of all parties filled with international music, magic and merrymaking.

Old West Festival

Weekends through July 7

This festival transports visitors to authentic Dodge City Wild West town. Cowboys, duels — it’s time to get into Dodge! 

Northside Rocks

July 3-4 in Hoffner Park/Downtown Northside

The Rock ‘N Roll Carnival is an extension of the festival that has been presented by the Northside Business Association since at least the early 80’s and continues through the work and support of the Northside Business Association and numerous Northside residents and businesses for the sake of showcasing Cincinnati’s most independent neighborhood, NORTHSIDE! The parade happens at 12 pm on July 4 and features the most colorful and creative floats and entertainment in all of Cincinnati!

LaRosa’s Balloon Glow

July 3 at Coney Island

Bring the whole family to Coney Island’s 20th Anniversary LaRosa’s Balloon Glow. It’s a FREE event where you can watch the night sky glow with hot air balloons, be thrilled by the Circus Stunt Show, enjoy live music and end the night with Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks.

1000 Lights Water Lantern Festival

Photo credit: Water Lantern Festival website

July 13 starting at 6 pm at Eden Park’s Mirror Lake

Experience the magic of thousands of lanterns gently illuminating Mirror Lake at Eden Park. The Water Lantern Festival is filled with fun, happiness, hope, and great memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. This is a family friendly event that can be shared by everyone!

Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival

Photo credit: Facebook/The Ohio Challenge
July 19 & 20 at Smith Park

The Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival features a hot air balloon competition with up to 40 balloons, as well as outdoor concerts, food vendors, and carnival rides. Come out to see sky divers, special shape balloons, firework displays, beautiful balloon glows and more! Visit the event website for an up-to-date schedule of events. Parking is available at Middletown Regional Airport with a shuttle to Smith Park. Admission is $5/Walk-In or $15.Vehicle with shuttle included from Middletown Regional Airport.


Photo credit: Instagram/Dangerwheel

July 27 in Pendleton (starts at 378 E 12th St)

An adult big wheels race? Now this is something you’ve gotta see to believe! Danger Wheel returns for its fifth year and promises to be a day full of downhill races, local brews and fun in the sun. This event is free and open to the public!


Photo credit: Goettafest website

July 25-28 & Aug. 1-4 at Newport’s Festival Park on the Levee

If you live in Cincy, then you know all about the breakfast delicacy known as goetta. And Goettafest celebrates this spicy-savory treat, with two weekends stuffed from top to bottom with live entertainment, family-focused goetta games, and super inventive food, what makes it all so grand is the gathering of the goetta-lovin’ community who travels from all corners of the country, to decorate with festivity and joy Northern Kentucky’s Newport on the Levee at the breathtaking Ohio Riverfront.

The Cardboard Boat Regatta

Crazy Cardboard Regatta Photo Credit: Cincinnati News

Aug. 3 at 1 pm in New Richmond, OH

Held each August in New Richmond, OH, the Cardboard Boat Regatta features some of the finest hand-built boats you’ll see on the water — and are made entirely from everyday items like cardboard and duct tape, these boats are anything but ordinary. Past regattas have featured elaborate riverboats, dragon boats and floating swan boats, all of which passed the test of floating on the mighty Ohio.

Annual Flying Circus

Photo credit: RC Flying Circus website

Aug. 3 & 4 at the Butler County Regional Airport

For two days only, the world’s largest and most exciting Model Air Show will fly high in Butler County. Join in on the fun at this Model Aeronautics Extravaganza, great for the entire family. A full scale static display will be available for viewing, and airplane rides will be available.

Feature image: Facebook/The Ohio Challenge 

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