Soapbox recommends: A guide to this fall's jam-packed events schedule

Locally in recent weeks, we have enjoyed MidPoint Music Festival, the Cincinnati Food and Wine Classic, multiple Oktoberfest celebrations and City Flea in Washington Park, plus great shows and exhibits at beloved performance venues and art houses all over town.

There’s always a lot going on in our core neighborhoods, but the coming months will reach a fever pitch, especially in Over-the-Rhine, where the first two weeks of October alone will see a schedule of events circling around the long-anticipated reopening of Music Hall.

But there’s even more happening across our city; far too much to cram into one story. Instead of attempting the impossible, Soapbox offers a handful of our forthcoming favorites.

Use our editors' picks below as a guide, and get out there this fall to enjoy this world-class city!

OCT. 6 & 7, OTR

It’s a bit of a misnomer, since Music Hall's triumphant return will unfold over several weeks, with myriad events welcoming back to the stage each of the beloved icon's resident companies: Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet and May Festival Chorus.

But Grand Opening Weekend will kick things off right, shining a light on the Hall's majesty and the sheer effort that’s gone into refurbishing spaces like Springer Auditorium and Corbett Tower.

The Opening Night Celebration on Oct. 6 will feature a pre-concert gourmet dinner followed by a CSO performance of John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Beethoven’s “First Piano Concerto” by award-winning pianist Kit Armstrong and Scriabin’s Le Poème de l’Extase (Poem of Ecstasy). There will also be a world premiere by Jonathan Bailey Holland, commissioned specifically for this re-opening concert. The concert runs again at 8 p.m. on Oct. 7.

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Brandemonium brings SXSW style to Cincy Oct. 11-14. (Photo: Provided)



Think South by Midwest, and you’ll begin to get an idea of what organizers have planned for Brandemonium 2017. The brand conference and festival will feature more than 80 speakers and panelists representing companies as well-known and diverse as Google, Target, Kroger, Southwest Airlines, Gorilla Glue and P&G.

True to SXSW style, Brandemonium will be about much more than conference talks. There will also be pop-up shops, brand takeovers, brand hacks, performances, lounges and after-parties galore.

“Most conferences are just that: a conference and the only people that know about it are the attendees,” says Brandemonium co-founder Bill Donabedian. “We wanted this to be more like SXSW, Cannes and Sundance. At those events, the industry turns itself outward and gets the public involved through brand activations, an experience that enables a brand to engage directly with consumers.”

Donabedian says the conference will touch on everything from brand management to package design, while a heavy visual component will endeavor to make the city a “blank canvas” for brands to erect “jaw-dropping brand manifestations” that will be reflected on local buildings and storefront windows.

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TECHSTARS STARTUP WEEK (powered by CincyTech)

Startup Week is a national thing, but Greater Cincinnati will put its own spin on it Oct. 9-13, connecting leaders and entrepreneurs across the region who share a passion for innovation.

Union HallCintrifuse’s 38,000-square-foot co-working and entrepreneurial space — will serve as home base, but events will also take place at The Warehouse @ NKY Innovation Network in Covington and HCDC in Avondale.

Attendees will hear from a variety of keynote speakers and engage in workshops and panel discussions focused on topics like raising capital, diversity and inclusion, talent and leadership, branding, coding, valuations and more.

Startup Week highlights will include demo days and reunion celebrations for both The Brandery and Hillman Accelerators, insight from the Techstars network and a StartupCincy community pitch competition for a $10,000 prize.

You can read more about Startup Week here.

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The new and improved Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. (Photo: Provided)

2017-18 SEASON, OTR

While the recent focus in OTR has been on Music Hall’s grand reopening, two other beloved Cincy icons are showing off their respectively new and refurbished digs in the same neighborhood.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s brand-new Otto M. Budig Theater boasts one of the city’s most unique theater experiences. With just six rows and no seat in the house more than 20 feet from the stage, theater-goers will enjoy unmatched closeness and intimacy with performers in classic productions like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dracula, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and much more.

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Meanwhile, over in the 1100 block of Vine Street, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati begins its 2017-2018 Season in its newly renovated theater with the charming regional premiere of self-discovery drama, This Random World. Watch a sneak-peek video of the renovation project here. The $4.2 million restoration will allow the venue to host a longer season with added programming and showcase physical improvements that include a bigger lobby and new, more comfortable and accessible seating.

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Contemporary Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen has won international acclaim as one of the 21st century’s most visionary designers. Now, the Cincinnati Art Museum will showcase van Herpen’s avant-garde collection in an exhibit that runs through Jan. 7. Van Herpen’s work has been credited with introducing 3D printing to fashion and has been worn by celebrities known for pushing the envelope — Lady Gaga, Tilda Swinton and Bjork are just a few.

The exhibit will feature 45 outfits from 15 collections and nine pairs of shoes — all employing innovative materials that attendees are invited to touch. A video featuring footage from van Herpen’s last six runways shows will play on a loop.

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Cincinnati re-imagined as the backdrop for BLINK community light fest. (Photo: Provided)



You’re definitely going to want to see this. BLINK is a four-day community festival featuring more than 70 animated light shows projected onto Cincinnati's buildings, murals, interactive art sculptures and other light-based displays. The event will span 20 city blocks, from The Banks all the way up to Findlay Market, and organizers have described it as “an immersive, inclusive and magical experience.” Here are just a few of the BLINK attractions sure to generate buzz for months to come:

BLINK will feature more than 70 animated light shows, including a 40' x 20' illuminated peacock.- 40' x 20’ illuminated peacock with steel plumes colored by 15,000 individually controlled LEDs
- Animated light display projected onto the historic St. Louis Church at 29 E. Eighth St.
- Interactive, all-ages “Storybook” event at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
- “Luminous Ether” lighting experience representing the spectrum of human vision at Eighth & Main streets
- “Vase Maze” illuminated mini-golf course at Washington Park

Learn More/Full Schedule TBA

Attendees mingle at DesignBuildCincy 2015. (Photo: Provided)

OCT. 28-29, OTR

In its third incarnation, this design-centric tradeshow promises an intimate setting for local architects, contractors, fabricators, artisans and everyday design lovers to gather together in appreciation of the work produced by strong design communities here and elsewhere.

DesignBuildCincy will include multiple events at various venues — all accessible on foot or by public transportation such as the Cincinnati Bell Connector — creating something of a festival vibe. Next door to the Music Hall expo at historic Memorial Hall, attendees can sit in on talks by heavy-hitting design and architecture experts like Chip Wade from HGTV. On Saturday afternoon, Soapbox will host a speaker series as part of the day's activities.

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Memorial Hall reopened recently following an $11 million upgrade. (Photo: 3CDC)

2017-18 SEASON, OTR

Memorial Hall, the pretty girl-next-door to Music Hall, has also been the subject of a massive regional arts investment. The treasured, century-old venue recently reopened following an $11 million renovation; this year, it will host live performances, comedy, demonstrations, movies, weddings, corporate events and much more.

One anticipated highlight is Matinee Musicale’s presentation of violin prodigy Joshua Brown on Oct. 8. The award-winning violinist — who’s just 17 years old — took the grand prize at London’s 2016 ENKOR International Competition and is a regular guest on NPR’s “From the Top.” Brown performs on a 1679 Guarneri violin loaned to him by the Stradivari Society.

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Read more articles by Hannah Purnell.

Hannah Purnell is a lifelong Northern Kentuckian who writes extensively about regional issues related to arts and culture, politics and economic development.