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Indiana's 10 Summer Events and Festivals You Shouldn't Miss

Indiana's 10 Summer Events and Festivals You Shouldn't Miss

Picture of Michelle Combs
Updated: 9 February 2017
From Bloomington in the south to Indianapolis and the northern border with Illinois and Chicago, Indiana offers a wide variety of cultural destinations. Experience art from a renowned Native American modernist, avant-garde theatre, and celebrations of Indiana’s rich agricultural heritage — all in the short months of summer. Explore our picks of summer events and festivals in Indiana that you shouldn’t miss.

Film | Indy Film Fest

17 – 26 July

The Indy Film Fest will showcase over 90 independent shorts and feature length films this July in Indianapolis. For the 11th year running, the festival will be held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Filmmakers from all over the world have submitted works for the festival, making it a truly international event. Films range from the drama of Aftermath, a short film about harsh survival, to a documentary chronicling the Ghost Pepper Eating Contest of Jefferson County. The Film Fest also hosts a handful of other events throughout the year, including the ‘Bigger Picture Show’, in which local designers reimagine classic movie posters and sell original prints to raise money for the annual July festival.

Indy Film Fest, 1449 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN, USA +1 (317) 560 4433


Art | Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison at the Eiteljorg Museum

29 March – 21 September

Indiana’s Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is dedicated to educating the public on the art and culture of Native Americans and the American West. Going beyond the usual depictions of ‘otherness’, the museum’s innovative exhibitions explore the intersections of Native American culture and history with that of the broader American culture and the cultures of other minority groups, such as the African American or LGBT communities. This summer, the Eiteljorg is hosting a traveling exhibition of the work of the Native American modernist George Morrison. Encompassing drawing, painting, print, and sculpture, this show is the first major retrospective of the 20th century artist whose landscapes and abstract works are utterly captivating.

Eiteljorg Museum, 500 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN, USA +1 (317) 636 9378


Art, Music and Theatre | Indiana University Summer Festival of the Arts

12 May – 24 August

All summer long, Indiana University will be treating Bloomington to all of the art, theatre and music the city can handle. With programming running from May through August, each month is saturated with cultural events of all genres. Enjoy a performance of the classic musical Godspell, a concert of 16th century Italian music, art house cinema, and an exhibition featuring the work of renowned photographer Jerry Uelsmann—and that’s just June. Events continue until the beginning of the next academic year at Indiana University in late August.

Indiana University Bloomington, 107 South Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, IN, USA +1 (812) 855 4848


Music | Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s Marsh Symphony On The Prairie

20 June – 30 August

Now in its 33rd year, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s summer Marsh Symphony On the Prairie at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park has become an Indiana tradition. The Orchestra kicks off the season with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and then explores a wide variety of music, ranging from Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, to Glenn Miller and Beethoven. The season wraps up in late August with a performance from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Patrons are invited to bring their blankets, picnics and drinks and enjoy one of the best musical events in central Indiana.

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, 13400 Allisonville Road, Fishers, IN, USA +1 (317) 776 6000

Theatre | IndyFringe Festival

14 – 24 August

In late August, Indianapolis’s Mass Ave cultural district serves as the host for the IndyFringe Theatre Festival. The festival incorporates 8 different venues, involving 64 performing groups for a total of almost 400 performances. The festival also maintains a balance of local and national/international presence, with half of the performing groups being local and the other half being national or international. In its 10th year, IndyFringe will include a mix of traditional theatre as well as avant garde performances from emerging and established artists alike. In addition to the summer festival, the IndyFringe group also organises DivaFest to celebrate female playwrights in the fall and OnyxFest to showcase African American playwrights each May.

IndyFringe Festival, 719 East Saint Clair Street, Indianapolis, IN, USA +1 (317) 522 8099

Indy Fringe

Image Courtesy of IndyFringe Festival


Art | Parallel Pursuits: Tom Brand – Finding Form, Carole Stodder – Shaping Space

16 May – 10 August

In northern Indiana, near Chicago, Valparaiso University’s Brauer Museum of Art is opening an exhibition of regional artists Tom Brand and Carole Stodder. Brand and Stodder are both abstract painters and well established in the nearby Chicago art scene. Stodder favour geometric abstractions, recalling the stained glass patterns of the Prairie School Style, while Brand’s organic forms provide a pleasing complement and contrast. Both are modernists and heavily inspired by the landscape that surrounds them. In addition to this show, the Brauer Museum is hosting an exhibition of new acquisitions and local artists and educators Fred Frey and Eleanor Lewis.

Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso University, 1709 Chapel Drive, Valparaiso, IN, USA +1 (219) 464 5365


Theatre | The Cock Fight Play at the Phoenix Theatre

12 June – 6 July

The Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis is one of the city’s best venues for contemporary theatre. The Phoenix showcases popular and cutting edge musicals and plays to small audiences—less than 150 people for each performance—in an intimate setting. This June and July, the theatre is staging Mike Bartlett’s The Cock Fight Play, which premiered in London at The Royal Court Theatre. The plot revolves around the main character’s sexual identity crisis after he takes a break from his relationship with a man, only to unexpectedly fall in love with a woman. The play has been critically acclaimed by the London press as well as by The New York Times. This Indiana premiere is not to be missed.

Phoenix Theatre, 749 North Park Avenue, Indianapolis, IN, USA +1 (317) 635 7529


Art and Music | ORANJE

13 September

ORANJE brings together contemporary art and live music to create an unforgettable evening in Indianapolis each September. Held on the State Fairgrounds about a month after the State Fair, ORANJE provides a venue for artists of a wide range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, fashion, poetry and performance art. This one night only event packs a lot of culture under one roof, running accordingly until 2 AM. Beginning in 2002, the first ORANJE opened to 700 attendees, and the event has only continue to grow each year. Expect great music and a variety of cutting edge contemporary art in this annual Indianapolis art party.

ORANJE, Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 East 38th Street, Indianapolis, IN, USA


Art | Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival

4 — 7 August

One of the biggest arts and crafts festivals in Indiana, The Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival has been going for over fifty years. Several travel publications and TripAdvisor have recognised the festival as an outstanding event, with the festival routinely appearing on lists of the top events in the country, including this one. The juried show of 300 booths represents over 200 cities and 30 states across America. Live music, paddle boat rides, and a myriad of food vendors complete the event. The site of Amish Acres itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as was originally established by some of the first Amish settlers in Indiana. Now, the working farm functions as a local attraction and has been open to the public since 1970.

Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival, 1600 West Market Street, Nappanee, IN, USA +1 (574) 773 4188


Culture | Indiana State Fair

1 – 17 August

The Indiana State Fair is one of the oldest state fairs in America, with the first fair dating back to 1852. In recent years, the fair has also grown to be one of the biggest, with almost one million attendees in 2009. Attractions of the fair include concerts from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Robin Thicke, as well as the Farmer’s Day Parade and a car show. America’s state fairs traditionally celebrate their state’s agricultural heritage, and Indiana’s is no exception. Special exhibits from The Glass Barn to the DuPont Food Pavilion showcase the importance of the industry to this Midwestern state.

Indiana State Fair, 1202 East 38th Street, Indianapolis, IN, USA +1 (317) 927 7500


By Michelle Combs