About the Columbia Festival of the Arts

Inspires and engages the community through arts and entertainment.

]The Columbia Festival of the Arts is a two-week summer festival that provides unique arts and entertainment experiences for the region surrounding Columbia, Maryland.

From the fun-filled Lakefest Free Weekend to legendary performances by artists such as Judy Collins, Aretha Franklin, and Pilobolus, the Festival creates a world class celebration of the arts and entertainment that attracts, engages and inspires the broad and diverse community it serves.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Mission Statement

The mission of the Columbia Festival of the Arts is to present a world class celebration of the arts and entertainment that attracts, engages, and inspires the broad and diverse community it serves.

Ahn Trio
Alex de Grassi
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Aquila Theatre Company
Aretha Franklin
Arlo Guthrie
Arturo Sandoval
Ballet Hispanico
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet
Bettye Lavette
Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
Blood Sweat & Tears
Bo Diddley
Bobby McFerrin
Branford Marsalis
California Guitar Trio
Calle 54
Capitol Steps
Carrie Brown
Cassandra Wilson
Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer
Celtic Crossroads
Charlotte Blake Alston
Chicago City Limits
Christopher Parkening
Chuck Negron
Cirque Carpe Diem
Cyro Baptista & Beat the Donkey
Dave Brubeck Quartet
David Sanchez
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Del McCoury Band
Dianne Schurr
Doug Varone and Dancers
East Village Opera Company
Ed Asner as FDR
Edith Pearlman
Eileen Ivers
Emmylou Harris
Erth Dinosaur Petting Zoo
Eva Cassidy
Four Bitchin’ Babes
Flying Karamazov Brothers
Fred Garbo Inflatable Theater Co.
Gaelic Storm
Garrison Keillor
Garth Fagan Dance Company
Hal Holbrook in “Mark Twain Tonight”
Harry Connick, Jr.
Henry Cho
Home Free
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change
Imago Theatre
Inbal Pinto
Indigo Girls
Irvin Mayfield & The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
Itzhak Perlman
Jake Shimabukuro
James Galway
John Heffron
John McCutcheon
John Waters
Johnson Mountain Boys
Jon Reep
Jubilant Sykes
Judy Collins
Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Laura Lippman


Letters Home
Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company
Iliza Shlesinger
Liz Lerman Dance Exchange
Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba
Luna Negra Dance Theater
Man 1, Bank 0 starring Patrick Combs
Manil Suri
Marcel Marceau
MarchFourth Marching Band
Mark O’Connor
Max Roach Quartet
Miami City Ballet
Micheal Moschen
Mike Super
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Minnesota Dance Theatre
Mum Puppettheatre
Natalie Macmaster
Nebellen Dance Company
Nnenna Freelon
Next Ice Age
One-Man Lord of the Rings starring Charles Ross
One-Man Star Wars Trilogy starring Charles Ross
Parsons Dance Company
Patricia Smith and Sage String Quartet
Paul Winter Consort
Paula Poundstone
Philip Glass
Pilobolus Dance Theatre
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Rennie Harris Puremovement
Robert Sabuda
Rosanne Cash
Rhythmic Circus
Scrap Arts Music
Sekou Sundiata
Shangri La Chinese Acrobats
Sheila Kohler
Sol y Canto
Sprout Films
Squonk Opera
Strange Fruit
STREB vs. Gravity
Sweet Plantain
Taj Mahal
Tango Flamenco
Tayari Jones
Terrance Simien
The Chenille Sisters
The Flying Karamazov Brothers
The Hampton ROCK String Quartet
The Holmes Brothers
The Intergalactic Nemesis
The Langston Hughes Project
The Manhattan Transfer
The Neville Brothers
The Peking Acrobats
The Reduced Shakespeare Company
The Second City
The Seldom Scene
The Shirelles
The Smothers Brothers
The Spencers
The Stoop Storytelling
Third World
Tomas Kubinek
True Colors – The ‘80s Musical
Twyla Tharp Dance
Ty Barnett
Vusi Mahlasela
Washington Ballet
Wise Fool New Mexico
Wynton Marsalis & The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
Yerba Buen




Previous Festival Events

The hugely successful 32nd Columbia Festival of the Arts in June 2019 had over 20,000 attendees over three days.

Previously,  LakeFest at the Downtown Columbia Lake Front featured eVenti Verticalli from Italy, more than 50 visual artists from up and down the east coast, festive foods, and Clyde’s Howard on Tap Beer Festival featuring a Manor Hill summer ale brewed just for the Festival!

KidzART provided fun Children’s art making activities in the Simon Decker Arts Tent and there were participatory children’s music activities with the Olenka School of Music.

Bands on the lake stage included mid-Atlantic favorites such as Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band and Los Gaiteros de Sanguashington. One of 2017’s favorites returned – the US Navy Band Cruisers, along with the Bullbuckers, Nelly’s Echo, and The Sidleys. Home-grown stars included the Glenelg Jazz Ensemble, the Columbia Jazz Band, the Centennial Jazz Band, and the Columbia School of Rock.

KidzART provided fun Children’s art making activities in the Simon Decker Arts Tent and there were participatory children’s music activities with the Olenka School of Music.

Columbia’s Rouse, Smith, and Monteabaro Theatres included, films, adventuresome theatre, the Stoop Storytelling Series, and the Grammy and Tony Award winning jazz artist, Dee Dee Bridgewater!

When Columbia, Maryland, turned 20 in 1987, many of the town’s pioneers wanted to throw a birthday party that would celebrate the anniversary and reassert the town’s distinctive identity. They produced a major celebration called “Hail Columbia.”

On the tail of “Hail Columbia”, consensus emerged that there should be a Columbia Festival of the Arts representing all genres, combining local and national performers, and reflecting all elements of the community: races, ages, incomes, and genders. The mission became to “present programs of the highest artistic quality that feature distinguished nationally known artists” and to produce an “annual arts event that builds the spirit of community.” Thus, the Columbia Festival of the Arts was begun.

Job Opportunities

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