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The Columbia arts festival celebrates 50 years with outstanding performers

Columbia arts festival

The Columbia arts festival features world-class performers.


This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Columbia Festival of the Arts—and the 50th anniversary of Columbia! This year’s Columbia arts festival is filled with awe-inspiring performers and engaging activities. From iconic folk singers to New Orleans Rhythm and blues, the Festival’s music has something for everyone in the family. (For more info on Howard County, download our free area vacation guide!)

The LakeFest Free Weekend is back with live LakeStage performances covering every music genre, along with the Columbia arts festival’s signature Invitational Arts & Crafts Show. Not to be missed on Opening Weekend is Architects of Air – Luninarium, a soaring inflatable multi-room lighted sculpture that promises a spectacular journey into a surreal world that has delighted audiences across the globe.

And if you’re an independent film and theater buff, check out these events: Manual Cinema: The End of TV, Sundance Shorts on Tour, Sprout Film Festival and Stoop Storytelling.

There’s no better way to enrich your summer than enjoying the Columbia arts festival. Come stay with us in nearby Ellicott City to round out your memorable experience!

History of the Columbia Arts Festival

The Columbia arts festival was founded in 1987, originally as a celebration of the city’s 30th anniversary. With continued planning and passion from the community, it became a three-day event held in mid-June 1989. The main attraction was the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

By 1990, the festival had expanded to a two-weekend, 10-day extravaganza. Throughout the years, the festival played host to such artistic legends as singer Aretha Franklin and poet Mary Oliver. In 2001, the Columbia Festival of the Arts became truly international with featured acts like Indian sitarist Kartik Seshadri, the Cuban dance band Traje Nuevo, Irish-American fiddler Eileen Ivers, and Israel’s Haifa Festival Orchestra.

Since then, there have been too many incredible performers to list here (but you can read a full history on the festival website—it’s worth perusing!)

Notable events during the Festival

True to its history, this year’s anniversary festival is packed full of remarkable talent. Here are some highlights…


Date: Saturday, April 1, 2017

Location: James Rouse Theatre

Time: 8 Pm


Date: Sunday, June 18, 2017

Location: James Rouse Theatre

Time: 7:30 Pm


Date: June 16, 17 & 18, 2017

Location: Columbia Lakefront

Time: Throughout The Day


Date: Friday, June 23

Location: Smith Theatre, HCC

Time: 8 Pm


Date: Sunday, June 25, 2017

Location: Monteabaro Hall, HCC

Time: 1 Pm And 4 Pm


Date: June 16, 17 & 18, 2017

Location: Columbia Lakefront

Time: Throughout The Day


Date: June 16, 17 & 18, 2017

Location: Clydes Pavilion And Tent

Time: Throughout The Day


Date: June 16, 17 & 18, 2017

Location: Lakefront / Whole Foods

Time: Throughout The Day


Book in at the Wayside Inn in historic Ellicott City during the festival, and download our free area vacation guide to take the guesswork out of your planning!