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Cincinnati Music Fest, the biggest urban music festival in the nation, is set to kick off in July bringing an all-star lineup of returning favorites and new artists performing at two different venues for three days in downtown Cincinnati.

Fans outside of Paul Brown Stadium before Cincinnati Music Festival (photo: Louis Rideout)

Fans outside of Cincinnati Music Festival (photo: Louis Rideout)

The Cincinnati Music Festival is back and better than ever

With its roots beginning in 1962, the Cincinnati Music Festival brings more than 80,000 visitors every year to the Cincy Region. This annual event has been a tradition for decades, and every year you can expect an exciting lineup full of hip hop, soul, R & B and blues artists. 

Presented by P&G, the 2024 Cincinnati Music Festival returns this year on July 25-27 with a spectacular Thursday night kickoff concert at the Andrew J. Brady Center. The nostalgic lineup features some of the biggest throw-back hip hop legends out of New York, including Black Sheep, EPMD, KRS-One and MC Lyte.

The Friday and Saturday night concerts are both held downtown at Paycor Stadium - that's right, home of the Cincinnati Bengals! This year's headliner act for Friday night will be neo-soul superstar Maxwell, followed by a grand finale on Saturday with legendary New Edition. 

Before the festival kicks off on Saturday, don’t miss a special ceremony to unveil the newest inductees to the Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame at The Banks. This star-studded (and FREE) annual event honors the MANY prolific artists that call Cincinnati and Southeast Ohio home. Just be sure to wear your best white outfit, as is tradition!

Cincinnati Music Festival (photo: Madison Schmidt)

Cincinnati Music Festival (photo: Madison Schmidt)

The 2024 Cincinnati Music Festival schedule 

  • Thursday: July 25 at Andrew J. Brady Center: MC Lyte, KRS-One, EPMD and Black Sheep

  • Friday: July 26 at the Paycor Stadium: Featuring Maxwell, Ne-Yo, Fantasia, October London and The Original Lakeside

  • Saturday, July 27 at Paycor Stadium: Featuring New Edition, KEM, Coco Jones and Stokley

Tickets for the Cincinnati Music Festival are available online at cincinnatimusicfestival.com

Getting around downtown Cincinnati and parking for the Cincinnati Music Festival

Cincinnati Bell Connector Streetcar

Visiting the Cincy Region is a unique geographic experience. You can easily stay, eat, drink, explore and more in two different states! Separated by the Ohio River, the Cincy Region includes both Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Don't be afraid to venture across the river; there are multiple bridges, including the pedestrian-friendly Purple People Bridge and John R. Roebling Suspension Bridge.

Parking in downtown Cincinnati is not tricky. There are parking garages within walking distance of most places, including the Andrew J. Brady Music Center. The spacious parking garage is adjacent to the property. Parking for the Paycor Stadium events follows the same parking rules used for game days of the Cincinnati Bengals. Concert go-ers can even park across the Ohio River in Kentucky and easily walk across the pedestrian (and iconic!) Roebling Bridge. Definitely don't miss your chance to take beautiful pictures from the bridge of both the Northern Kentucky and downtown Cincinnati skylines!

Hotels in downtown Cincy and Northern Kentucky are also offering parking for this event. Ridesharing with Uber or Lyft is always available–although rates could increase during the peak hours of this event. 

Hop on the Connector Streetcar (totally free!) to quickly get around downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine. The stop for Cincinnati Music Festival is #1, The Banks. 

Learn about Cincinnati’s rich musical history 

From launching the career of the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown to resurrecting the career of county music icon Hank Williams–and just about every musical genre in between–Cincy has a notably rich music history.  

While James Brown recorded many of his classic hits in Cincinnati on the King Records label, Cincy cannot claim him as an original son. However, his legendary and long-time backup band, The J.B.’s, are from the area. The JBs, one of the industry's best funk and soul instrumental backing bands, had a strong Cincy connection. 

Some other musical icons claiming Cincy as their home include: Bootsy Collins, a key player–if not the top player–in the funk music scene that headed up Parliament Funkadelic for several years; The Isley Brothers, whose 1959 iconic song “Shout” and later “It’s Your Thing,” grew up in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood before settling in Blue Ash; 1920s legend Mamie Smith “The Queen of the Blues” who was the first black artist, male or female, to record a blues song with vocals, also claimed Cincy as her hometown. 

The best way to learn about Cincy's musical history is to visit the brand-new Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame. 

Celebrate Cincy’s music heritage at Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame

Founded in 2021 by Hamilton County, the Cincinnati Black Music Walk of Fame debuted the following year recognizing the musical scene created by those black artists with ties to Hamilton County and Southeastern Ohio. 

Black Music Walk of Fame

Musical icons inducted into the fourth class of the Hall of Fame all have some connection to the iconic music scene in Cincinnati and will be announced this spring.

Celebrate the induction of these historic artists at noon on Saturday, July 27 at the Andrew J. Brady Music Center in The Banks district of downtown Cincinnati. All white attire is tradition. 

Other things to do during Cincinnati Music Festival Weekend

Glier's Goettafest (7/25-7/28): Head across the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky to experience one of the biggest food festivals in Cincy! Taste and sample your way through Goettafest, a celebration of goetta, one of Cincy's signature regional dishes. If you've never tried this unique pork and grain dish before, this is the perfect time to do so.

Festival513 (7/27-7/28): Located outside of the stadium all festival weekend, Festival513 is a free two-day event that highlights and celebrates the eclectic culture within the African American community. Enjoy food, drinks and art vendors. 

Vibe Marketplace (7/25-7/28): Explore local and minority-owned shops, vendors, and artisans in downtown Cincinnati's Fountain Square.

Cincy Soul: The Black Taste (7/27-7/28): Two-day food festival celebrating black-owned restaurants, caterers, and food trucks.  

Queen City 5K (7/27): Race through downtown Cincinnati while raising money for local kids in the Cincy Region.

Visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to view the "Negro Motorist Green Book" exhibit.

Check out our full events calendar to see everything happening during the weekend of the Cincinnati Music Festival.

Bourbon and Spirits Tour (photo: American Legacy Tours)

Bourbon and Spirits Tour (photo: American Legacy Tours)
 

Take a tour of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and learn about the Cincy Region's prohibition and brewing history. Taste Cincinnati’s rich food culture with a delicious food and beverage tour. Art lovers will enjoy creating their walking mural tour for a glimpse of colorful paintings around the region. Discover real Kentucky bourbon on the B-Line in Northern Kentucky.  

Don’t miss this fabulous weekend of great music, great entertainment, and so much more. See you there!