The Whatzup 2023 Preview
Fill your calendar with our big guide
The ball might not have dropped on 2022 quite yet, but we’re still able to look ahead to 2023 activities, right?
Despite a few hiccups in 2022, things really began to feel a lot like the good ol’ days, circa February 2020. Festivals returned to Headwaters Park with restrictions off, and music venues were able to welcome back fans, with far fewer cancellations than 2021.
While many activities have not finalized dates, we know they will be taking place, such as Deer Park Irish Pub’s popular St. Patrick’s Day festivities, which extend beyond a single day. Other items for which dates could not be confirmed include RibFest, Middle Waves, Covington Plaza Art Fair, Taste of the Arts, and the Art Crawl.
So, with all that being said, let’s turn our attention toward 2023 festivities, most of which will comes with warmer weather, although some embrace the cold … we’re looking at you Winterval and Weather the Fort!
Jan. 28 — Winterval: The 12th annual winter festival is one of the few in town that requires a heavy coat, hat, and gloves. Enticing residents to get out in the cold, ice sculptors get busy creating artwork around downtown. Along with seeing blocks of ice transformed into art, there will also be the Winter Carnival and Warm Heart Market at the Community Center, Winter Cozy at Promenade Park for the adults, and a hike at Lindenwood Nature Preserve.
Feb. 18 — Weather the Fort: You’re gonna want to keep those winter coats on for the next festival on The Landing. Along with the ice sculptures, you might catch some fire dancers and warm up next to some heaters, or with some warm beverages at some of the surrounding eateries.
March 18 — Get Green Fest: With spring just around the corner, downtown goes green with this Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters event. While some are recovering from St. Patrick’s Day festivities from the day before, this family-friendly event includes the St. Marys River turning green, a Lucky Charms eating contest, a gold coin drop, as well as plenty of food trucks and other entertainment.
May 20 — Buskerfest: Downtown Fort Wayne’s annual event shuts down the streets for magicians, jugglers, fire dancers, living statues, and others to take over. The family-friendly event also features live music from local acts, so be sure to bring a couple dollars and tip your entertainers!
May 21 — Cherry Blossom Festival: This festival is moving from the downtown Allen County Public Library to Walb Student Union and other spots around Purdue University Fort Wayne in 2023. Despite the change in scenery, prepare to celebrate Japanese arts, crafts, and culture with dancing, food, and plenty of vendors.
May 21 — Eco Fest: One of the newer festivals on the docket, this environment-conscious event at Headwaters Park is sustainability-focused. While enjoying food and music, shop eco-friendly vendors and take part in workshops to learn how you can earn Mother Nature’s approval.
June 3-4 — Arab Fest: The festival season really begins to get into swing when this festival returns for its seventh year at Headwaters Park West. Beginning in 2015 by the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace, the nonprofit Arab Fest – Fort Wayne, Inc. now runs the festival, which highlights Arab hospitality, food, and song and dance.
June 5-11 — Germanfest: Among the oldest festivals in Fort Wayne, Germanfest began in 1981 as a way to bring a German folk festival to Fort Wayne. Since then, it’s grown as fast as your belly filling up on bratwurst, schnitzel, sauerkraut, and adult beverages. When you’re not filling up on food, you can catch the Legs ‘N Lederhosen event, Wienerdog Races, the Trauben Tromp, and other fun events. Prost!
June 10 — Solfest: This celebration of the sun takes you out of downtown. Originally set at Fox Island County Park, this festival took a four-year hiatus before returning in 2022 at Parkview Field. Because of continued cleanup following a storm at Fox Island, the 2023 edition will take place at Metea County Park, where you’ll be able to shop local vendors and enjoy plenty of local music.
June 22-25 — Greek Fest: Back at Headwaters Park for its 43rd edition, organizers invite you to “party like a Greek,” enjoying authentic cuisine, music, and traditional dancing. The dancing might be a fantastic way to work off the calories after indulging in gyros, roasted lamb shank, baklava, and a wide arrange of other delicacies offered. Opa!
July 7-15 — Three Rivers Festival: The granddaddy of them all. Headwaters Park and the rest of downtown is sure to be bustling with the 53rd Three Rivers Festival returns. Complete with carnival rides, carnival food, live music, and plenty of other activities, such as the parade (July 8), Art in the Park and its coinciding Chalk Walk, (July 8-9), Bed Race (July 12), and the Waiter-Waitress Contest (July 10), this festival truly has something for everyone, culminating with the Fireworks Finale on July 15.
July 21-22 — Fort Wayne Pride: Pride festival will be back at Headwaters Park, kicking off with a Friday night party, followed by a Pride March on Saturday morning. The 2022 edition saw the festival expand to Headwaters East and West, featuring vendors, music, a resource fair, beer tent, and KidSpace. This is truly a festival where you let your trues colors shine.
Aug. 12 — Fiesta Fort Wayne: Held each year since the late 1970s, this celebration of Hispanic and Latino culture is a true party at Headwaters Park. From the festive music and dancing to the abundance of food and vendors, you might even need a slight siesta to keep up as the party goes late into the night.
Aug. 18-25 — Allen County Fair: Sure there will be 4-H participants spending the days tending to their animals, but there will be others showing up daily for rides, food, and events at the Allen County Fairgrounds off Carroll Road. From truck pulls, the hot air balloon flight/glow, live music, and more, there’s no shortage of fun to be had at this annual event.
Aug. 26-Sept. 3 — Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival: Automotive enthusiasts from all over the world flock to Auburn each year to take part in this festival, which celebrates the city’s automobile legacy. The upcoming festival will be the 67th edition, featuring car shows, a parade, cruise-in, meet-and-greets, and much more to quench for thirst for automotive history.
Sept. 9 — Brewed IN the Fort: Craft beer connoisseurs rejoice when breweries, meaderies, and cideries congregate at Headwaters Park. In partnership with Fort Wayne Trails, get unlimited samples of drinks, while enjoying live music and food trucks that are on hand to help soak up some of that alcohol. Just be sure to pace yourself, and water is your friend!
Sept. 16-17 — Johnny Appleseed Festival: This brings to mine the smell of smoke wafting across Johnny Appleseed Park next to Memorial Coliseum. Celebrating its 48th year in 2023, this event takes you back to the 1800s to celebrate John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, known for planting apple trees across the Midwest. This two-day celebration has a bevy of vendors, demonstrations, and activities to make you forget smartphones even
Oct. 19-22 — Hobnobben Film Festival: Cinephiles and your average film lovers meet up at Cinema Center to soak in four days of independent films. The festival had a record-breaking 128 movies in 2022 that follow its mission of celebrating “the human experience through cinematic storytelling.” For those indie filmmakers out there, submissions for this festival are currently open.
Nov. 22-29 — Festival of Trees: Opening the same night as downtown’s Night of Lights, this Embassy Theatre fundraiser has become a must for many families. Filling the lobbies of the Embassy and Indiana Hotel since 1984, elaborate trees decorated by businesses and individuals draw fans in year after year.
April 15 — Record Store Day: The day vinyl lovers await arrives with this 15th annual event, conceived to “celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1400 independently-owned record stores in the U.S.” Fans line up to get deals on hard-to-find records, while some record stores even host live music.
April 22 — Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo opening day: Beginning as a nature preserve, the zoo has been wowing families since 1965, and 2023 will be no different. With continuing upgrades, there’s something new to see each year, although stalwarts like the lions, orangutans, tigers, and giraffes will be there. However Zuri, the oldest reticulated giraffe in the U.S., will no longer be there to have lettuce fed to her after her passing in November.
Aug. 5 — River, Set, Go!: Our rivers take center stage for this event, which is highlighted by the 21-person Fort Wayne Dragon Boat Races. This third annual event by Riverfront Fort Wayne and the parks department also has floating yoga, a paddle parade, and floating fire pit to cap things off. In short, this event has whatever floats your boat.
Sept. 10 — Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown: Ever explored our city’s architectural marvels? No? Well, this is exactly what you need. Numerous museums and other venues like Allen County Courthouse, Artlink, Embassy Theatre, and African/African-American Historical Society and Museum offer free admission to give you the opportunity to visit all that Fort Wayne has to offer. You can even use a passport to mark all the places you’ve visited!
Oct. 21 — Fright Night: A Halloween favorite, downtown Fort Wayne gets downright ghoulish. Following activities scattered around all day, the fun culminates with the Zombie Walk through the downtown streets, where participants take delight in their undead costumes.
Nov. 12-Dec. 31 — Blue Jacket’s Fantasy of Lights: Franke Park has become a Christmas destination thanks to the light display that’s erected every year and runs through Dec. 31. The 2-mile loop has more than 150 scenes and nearly 650,000 LED lights with different theme nights and 91.7FM playing music to coincide with the cruise.
Nov. 22 — Night of Lights: The largest gathering in the city, the 2022 event drew thousands to downtown to see the lighting of Santa and His Reindeer, the Christmas Wreath, and others. Along with walking the closed downtown streets, participants can also warm up and catch some music and crafts at Grand Wayne Center, then head to Parkview Field for fireworks.
Something to chew on
Jan. 18-29 — Savor Fort Wayne: For those foodies, this Visit Fort Wayne event has local businesses offer a three-course special menu at discounted prices. There are currently 36 restaurants from across the city signed on to participate in 2023, so … bon appetite!
Working up a sweat
June 3 — Fort4Fitness Spring Cycle: Open to cyclists of all skill levels, participants can ride in the 8-Mile Family Ride, short, medium, and long distances, or embark on the Metric Century (63 miles). Beginning and ending at Promenade Park, food trucks and live music await your return.
June 10 and Aug. 19 — Le Tour de Fort: What started as a pub crawl for his friends before Joseph Wasson was redeployed to Iraq in 2009 has become a full-fledged event. With shirt sales benefiting charity, it’s not hard to spot participants as they ride from watering hole to watering hole while continuing mission of “supporting veterans, strengthening their community, and bringing people together for an awesome time.”
Sept. 30 — Fort4Fitness Fall Festival: The year’s “biggest community celebration of fitness in downtown Fort Wayne” returns for its 16th edition in 2023 as thousands of runners gather to take part in 4-mile, 10K, half-marathon, and triple crown races. Participants run throughout downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods before finishing at Parkview Field, where a party awaits.
Let the games begin
April 11 — TinCaps Home Opener: The first sign of spring for many is opening day at the ballpark, and although the local high-A minor league team begins play in Grand Rapids on April 6, they open their home season April 11 against Lake County. There will be 66 home games this year, 27 of which will end with fireworks.
Feb. 2 — Winter Jam: The contemporary Christian tour returns to Memorial Coliseum, headlined by We the Kingdom and Jeremy Camp. As if that was not enough, $15 entry also gives you entry to see Andy Mineo, Anne Wilson, Austin French, Disciple, and Newsong, as well as some opening acts.
Feb. 23 — Buddy Guy: One of the most influential blues musicians of all time is about to stop touring, but not before bringing his Damn Right Farewell Tour to Embassy Theatre. Ally Venable and Eric Gales will be the opening acts for the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who has won eight Grammys, 38 Blues Music Awards, and received the Presidential National Medal of Arts.
Feb. 25 — Down the Line 17: Local acts get a chance to pay tribute to Woodstock performers at this annual spectacle at Embassy Theatre. This year’s show will feature The Be Colony playing music from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Renata Rio & The Proper Meds performing Jefferson Airplane, D. Ferren & The Sad Bastards performing Creedence Clearwater Revival, and G-Money Band performing Jimi Hendrix.
May 9 — Center Stage: This second annual talent show from Turnstone Center features performing artists of all talents and abilities. Talent submissions, be it magic, comedy, music, or anything else, are open until Feb. 24, with preliminary rounds used if needed before the finale at The Clyde Theatre, with the winner taking home $1,000.
May 15-16 — John Mellencamp: One of Indiana’s favorite sons will be at Embassy Theatre for a pair of shows, providing a good chance to catch the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer perform from his extensive catalogue.
June 1-Aug. 31 — Lunch on the Square: As the weather warms, Downtown Fort Wayne’s annual lunchtime tradition resumes at Freimann Square. While browsing for food from a bevy of food trucks, you’ll also get the chance to listen to some music from your favorite local musicians every Thursday through Aug. 31.
June 2-Oct. 6 — Downtown Live!: So you could not make it to Freimann Square for lunch on a Thursday? Well, you can head to The Landing each Friday evening through Oct. 6 for a bite while enjoying local music and vendors.
June 3 — Rock the Plaza: Everyone’s favorite free outdoor show returns every Saturday night this summer at the downtown Allen County Public Library. The shell outside the facility transforms into a music venue, featuring local music that you can enjoy while munching on snacks and having a drink from Dash-In.
June 22 — Jerry Seinfeld: After having to reschedule an earlier performance at Embassy Theatre, the man who created the most famous “show about nothing” is slated to take the stage. However, you haven’t gotten your tickets by now, you might be out of luck.
As it goes with calendar items, there’s bound to be something left off, you’re going to want to check on dates, times, and cover charges before heading out. Keep checking Whatzup’s calendars throughout 2023 for new and rescheduled events.