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Exploring the outskirts: Columbus entertainment on point with festivals, animals, comedy

Courtesy of Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Students have had a week to find their stomping grounds on campus, so The Lantern is taking a look beyond Ohio State’s borders to get them familiar with the city.

During this semester chances are you’ll get fed up with studying and overwhelmed with stress. For those intense moments, freeing yourself from anything class-related by exploring Columbus’ ample activities could be the ideal weekend remedy.

Most of the year is stocked with festivals in Columbus and Central Ohio. This weekend, the Short North is scheduled to host the 40th Annual Greek Festival, which centers on celebrating Greek culture and heritage through foods and activities.

This is a milestone for the Greek Festival as it is the “100th Anniversary of the founding of our parish,” said John Bizios, who is on the executive committee of the Greek Festival executive committee.

The event, presented by The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, located at 555 N. High St., normally attracts about 30,000 visitors throughout the four-day festival, according to the Cathedral’s website.

“It’s a Greek party,” Bizios said, based on the idea of filoxenia. “Filoxenia translates to friendship of strangers … We’re inviting guests into our home, we’re going to serve you our food.”

The festival is scheduled to run Friday afternoon through Monday evening and will include music, dancing, food and drinking. Adult tickets for the entire weekend are $5.

The Columbus Italian Festival is scheduled to run from Oct. 5-7 in Italian Village. Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased at the festival, but free tickets from D-tix, the Ohio Union’s discount tickets program, are scheduled for release Sept. 18.

Community Festival is free and held annually in June at Goodale Park in celebration of social justice and showcases alternative music performances and arts.

Jazz & Rib Fest, held in the Arena District, and Red, White & Boom, held in downtown Columbus, are both free and happen in July. Jazz & Rib Fest has been around for more than 30 years offering its “cool jazz” and “hot ribs,” according to its website. Red, White & Boom, held in celebration of Independence Day, is an all-day event filled with live entertainment, vendors and fireworks.

All Ohio Balloon Fest has been around for almost 40 years and is celebrated in August. Last year’s All Ohio Balloon Fest featured 35 hot air balloonists, some of which balloon designs included Darth Vader, a dragon, flying pig and a football. Tickets to the fest are $5 for a weekend pass.

Community and culture alone hardly scratch the surface of weekend activities in the 614. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is about a 30-minute trek from campus in Powell, Ohio, and day tickets start at $9.99 according to the zoo’s website. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has been rated No. 1 in America by sources such as USA Travel Guide and World Zoo Today.

“What we do better than anybody else is allowing people to have personal, unique up-close experiences. Any number of encounters you have brings the zoo closer to you,” said Patty Peters, vice president of communication relations for the Columbus Zoo. “You’re not just coming to see the zoo. You’re actually part of it.”  

Stingray Bay opened this summer, and allows guests to get up close, actually touching the animals.

Downtown attraction COSI, located on 333 W. Broad Street, is scheduled to host Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds & the Brain this fall.

“This world-renowned exhibit features more than 200 eye opening, authentic human specimens,” said Jaclyn Reynolds, public relations and social media manager for COSI.

Youth and adult admission tickets for COSI start at $11.95 $16.95, respectively, according to its website.

If you’re more into comedy and Ohio State’s own comedy group 8th Floor Improv, which performs monthly at the Union, and Fishbowl Improv leave you craving more, there are venues littered throughout Columbus, such as The Funny Bone located at Easton Towne Center. Funny Bone ticket prices vary by event.

Laughter is often the best medicine for stress relief, and Eddie Greenblat, a fourth-year in history and executive director of 8th Floor Improv, said the group offers an outlet close to campus.

“If it helps people forget their stress even only for the two hours they are at our show this is so fulfilling to know,” Greenblat said.

The group’s next show is slated for Sept. 21 in the Union’s US Bank Conference Theater.

Finding your niche is as simple as immersing yourself in what the city has to offer.

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