At the beginning of the year, people tend to stay in – partly because of the weather, and partly because of the light pocketbooks that are so common right after the holidays. There are a lot of ways to beat the winter blahs, however, and many if them are completely free! Below is a list of places that offer great entertainment at an unbeatable price – nothing!
You can cure Monday blues at the Contemporary Arts Center, which offers free admission on Mondays from 5 to 9 p.m. They also host their 44 Lunch series from noon to 2 p.m. Mondays and feature a new musician or band every week. Bring your lunch and enjoy live music amid the impressive architecture and progressive designs of the CAC, for free.
The Cincinnati Art Museum features more than 60,000 works of art, spanning 6,000 years. Thanks to the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Foundation, general admission is free! Besides the amazing art on display, the museum often plays host to special events and programs. A full schedule is listed on their Web site.
Another place that is always free and open to the public but that can sometimes be overlooked is the public library. All of the libraries throughout the city offer programs for children and adults, including book readings, classes/lectures and concerts. A searchable calendar is available on their Web site. Some of the ongoing events at the main library downtown include “Jazz of the Month Club” – featuring live Jazz performances – and a Lunch and Learn financial series. “Working at the Library, I’ve noticed a significant increase in visitors taking advantage of our materials and programs that are offered year-round for free,” says Shammeko Early, public relations assistant for the public library. “The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has everything from popular DVDs to the latest bestsellers. We have gone into the digital age offering free Wi-Fi at all 41 locations and digital materials that patrons can check out from the comfort of their homes.”
For food for the soul and the body, head to historic Findlay Market. During the warmer months, they often have outdoor performers. During this time of year (and year-round) they feature art exhibits in their Internet Cafe. This month’s artist is Susan Allen, and her photography exhibit is entitled, “Place and Meaning.” Findlay Market also has monthly special events. Findlay Market is a great place for affordable weekend entertainment. “You can come to the market, and you don’t have to pay to park,” says Cheryl Eagleson, marketing director of Findlay Market. “You can hang out all day… Not only is Findlay Market Ohio’s oldest public market and a wonderful place to buy fresh local foods, but [it’s] also a fun and free entertainment destination. We offer events every month of the year. They’re all free and are all on Sundays.” For more information on upcoming events, visit their full calendar of events.
Another great public resource for fun, free events is Fountain Square. There, visitors can enjoy activities every week – from broomball to frozen turkey tossing – and live music almost every night of the week during the warmer months. Visit their schedule to plan your next visit to the Square.
One of the best-kept secrets for free concerts is the College-Conservatory of Music. Students perform on a daily basis, and the recitals are free and open to the public. There you can catch a professional-level performance up-close and personal and completely gratis. For specific event information, visit their calendar.
Another fantastic place for free concerts (that also serves food and coffee) is College Hill Coffee Co. They feature top-notch live music every Friday and Saturday night, with no cover charge. (The public is asked to tip the artists as they are not paid to perform). “When I bought the shop three years ago, it was with the idea of a community gathering place,” owner Tina Stoeberl says. She says that they wanted to offer live local music to the neighborhood and have done so for the last three years. Besides family-friendly entertainment, they also offer full restaurant service and a gift shop full of European imports. She says that word is getting out about their music and that even folks from as far as Mason and West Chester are routinely showing up to enjoy the weekend concerts.
Another freebie of note is Whole Foods’ Saturday food samplers. From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays, they offer free food samples to the public. While this doesn’t technically count as entertainment, it is a way to have fun on a budget. After all, what’s more fun than free food? They also have special events in their store, so be sure to check out their calendar.
As always, there are art walks on two Fridays out of every month. First Fridays involve art gallery walks and extended shopping hours in Covington, Newport and Bellevue, Ky. Final Fridays have long been a gallery hop tradition downtown in Over the Rhine.
The moral of the story? Don’t let winter blues or a bear economy get you down! There are lots of places to go out and have a great time – and all within your budget.
Photographer: Amy Storer-Scalia
Models: Cheryl Eagleson, marketing director of Findlay Market
Location: Findlay Market