There’s no trick to it — the best pre-Halloween party around is in Columbus.
Maybe the best art partying period is to be had this October in Ohio’s capital city.
That’s right — this treat and all manner of artful October magic is in central Ohio. Home of the Buckeyes, the Bluejackets, the Crew, the state’s Capitol Square — and HighBall Halloween: Masquerade on High.
Building its buzz, the two-day frenzy on High St. has classy couture, wild costumes for humans and pets, music and O-H-I-O style and creative spirit.
A recent trip to Columbus, under the sponsorship of Experience Columbus, found everyone talking HighBall, the way Torontonians count down to TIFF.
Here’s the difference — at HighBall, you can be the star on High St.
Billed as a mixology mashup of Carnival, Mardi Gras and Halloween, the fest in the Short North Arts District goes Friday, Oct. 25-Saturday, Oct. 26 in downtown Columbus.
Details on HighBall Halloween are available at www.highballhalloween.com. So bring your A-Game costume.
This year, HighBall’s official hotel partner is the new Hilton Columbus Downtown. The festival takes place on High St. in front of the hotel, giving travelers a front-row seat for all of the HighBall action The two-night package is $558 plus tax for two guests for two nights (double occupancy).
A Friday-only package is available for $209 plus tax for two guests (double occupancy). (Prices in $US). Visit hiltoncolumbusdowntown.com
HighBall is No. 1 on our Top 10 reasons to go all artful in Columbus in the 10th month.
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2. Speaking of the Hilton, there are hundreds of excellent reasons to visit the atrium-concept hotel.
The 500-plus room Hilton has a tremendous art collection, 225 strong, on exhibition around its spaces. The art collection continues into the guest rooms with commissioned copies and prints in striking ceiling-mounted pieces. Among the artists represented in the hotel/gallery collection are Columbus icons Alice Schille, George Bellows, Emerson Burkhart, Milton Caniff, Aminah Robinson and Ann Hamilton.
For an arty experience, check out the giant lamp in the Gallerie restaurant. Great spot for a selfie.
Hilton Columbus Downtown: 401 N High St., Columbus, Visit hcd-art.com or call 614-384-8600
3. In honour of Columbus ranking behind only NYC and LA as a U.S. fashion centre, third on the list is the creative area known as the Short North Arts District. Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria’s Secret and DSW provide the big brand clout and attract grads from the Columbus College of Art and Design and other central Ohio schools. That’s the start. To pick one remarkable indie fashion success story to stand for many, there is Substance. There you’ll find “the clothes you keep.” Store manager Maddie Etter came to Columbus for CCAD, went to Abercrombie & Fitch and then struck out for the Short North after a few months. The results for Etter and allies? Classy dresses, ranging from about $40 to $150, accessories and locally made products. Keep this women’s clothing store’s info handy.
Substance: 783 N. High St., Columbus. Visit shopsubstance.com or call 614-299-2910
4. Why wait till Halloween to raise a little hell in October? NYC punk rock icon Richard Hell is due to visit Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for The Arts a.k.a The Wex. Hell is in Columbus for a reading and signing as he tours to support his autobiography, I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp. Hell’s memoir has an insider’s view of such bands as Television, The Heartbreakers and The Voidoids. When you’re in The Wex, the first major public building to be designed by NYC architect Peter Eisenman, see if you can find a right angle. Anywhere. Meanwhile, it’s Hell on Oct. 9, 7 p.m. — and free.
Wexner Center for the Arts: 1871 N High St., Columbus. Visit wexarts.org or call 614-292-3535
5. Okay, design studio and retail front Zeroz (pronounced “zeroes”) is not a museum or a restaurant or a bar. But for anyone afflicted with a morbidly obese wallet — I’m looking at you, brothers — this is a transformative experience. Zeroz is home to “less wallet and more cool: a super thin, new, credit card size sleeve wallet.” You probably want to be there when graphic designer turned wallet guru Paul Westrick offers one-liners about breaking free of your too-fat wallet: “If we can get a small amount of leather, we don’t have to make a chair. We can make a super skinny wallet — and it can be really special leather.” Staff are friendly and tend to be design or fashion grads and students who also know size counts if it’s small enough. Even the sizes are a clever play on small-is-beautiful. Difficult to explain until you go for Zeroz. Just don’t overstuff it. One warning: there is so much less to these wallets, they are easy to overlook when you’ve put them down for the night. Wallets loved by men and women, about $30-$85 and up to about $125 for the “extreme” Stingray.
6. Iconic Columbus artist George Bellows packs a punch. His boxing paintings are among his most famous and a force at a major retrospective in his hometown. There are also sensitive, psychological family portraits, an outraged depiction of German atrocities in the First World War and many sardonic lithographs and drawings from the museum’s own collection. George Bellows And The American Experience continues until Jan. 4, 2014. The Columbus Museum of Art is undergoing a major expansion. Don’t let that stop you from appreciating a hometown hero in splendid form. Remember to tell London artist and Bellows admirer Jeff Willmore how much you loved it.
Columbus Museum of Art: 480 E Broad St., Columbus. Visit columbusmuseum.org or call 614-221-6801
7. This is a stop for cocktails — and it’s a tie. Columbus, we’ll drink responsibly to that. Two places on our tour captivated us with mixology mastery. One is M, the flagship restaurant and bar for Columbus restaurateur Cameron Mitchell. At M, the award-winning bar chef Cris Dehlavi conjured up such delights as the “looks hot, but it’s cool” NightCap — hometown Watershed Distillery’s OYO Bourbon, pernod, coffee, brown sugar and whipped cream — to complement the many courses of an exquisite meal.
M: 2 Miranova Pl.,Columbus. Visit matmiranova.com or call 614- 629-0000
Over in German Village, sidle up to or into the bar at Harvest Pizzeria and Curio (the bar). There we had the best Pisco Sour we’d had since Lima . . . that’s Lima, Peru, not Columbus’s Ohio cousin. A rotating cast of ace bartenders also prepare such delights the Curio response to The Last Word cocktail of legend . . . Oh My Word. Which is equal parts (3/4 oz.) Watershed Distillery Bourbon Barrel (as in “six months in a bourbon barrel”) gin; green chartreuse; lime juice; Luxardo (maraschino cherry liqueur).
Harvest Pizzeria and Curio: 495 S 4th Street, Columbus. Visit harvestpizzeria.com or call 614-824-1769
8. After cocktails, some illumination. As host to British artist Bruce Munro’s Light, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is more magical than ever. Light artist Munro’s acclaimed installations Water-Towers and Field of Light have been recreated for the spaces here. Water-Towers is built out of one-litre recyclable plastic bottles filled with water, while fibre optics are connected to an LED projector and sound system. The installation mixes light and sound. Field of Light is a spiritual experience as hundreds of glass spheres sway and shimmer. Also in Light are well-known works, new pieces, and installations never before seen in the States. The night time is the right time to experience the Munro works with Wednesday, Thursday and Friday shining till l1 p.m. Selected Saturday extended hours are expected in 2014. Crowds of somewhere between 500 and 3,000 Light worshippers are expected at night. Continues to Feb. 8, 2014.
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens: 1777 E Broad St. Visit fpconservatory.org/light or call 614-715-8000
9. Privately held art glories acquired over 30 years in an outstanding new space. Sounds like the Pizzuti Collection, the just-opened home to contemporary art from the collection of Columbus’s Ron and Ann Pizzuti. U.S. superstars such as Louise Nevelson and Frank Stella are part of the inaugural exhibition. It’s no slight to say the biggest opening night thrills were provided by Cuban Forever, much of it acquired via trips to artist studios in Cuba. Aside from the Pizzutis’ courage and class in doing so, there is inspiration from Cuban contemporary art heroes such as the witty and passionate Raul Cordero and Alexandre Arrechea, whose Orange Tree dominates — in a good way — the new museum’s grounds. Continues through June 30, 2014.
Pizzuti Collection: 632 N Park St., Columbus. Visit pizzuticollection.com or call 614-280-4004
10. The citizens of Columbus seem cheerfully resigned to their work-of-art city being named for the Italian explorer who missed it by thousands of kilometres. No worries. You can have a quiet moment with the 1892 statue of Columbus, created for a seminary on the 400th anniversary of his first voyage. Given to the state in 1932 and refurbished with a new base for Christopher’s 500th, it is in an attractive corner of the Statehouse grounds. Good for a quiet bit of contemplation before resuming your voyage around Columbus (the city). Just no goodbye Columbus jokes when you wave goodbye to Columbus (the statue).
Capitol Square: Bounded by High, Broad, Third and State Sts. Visit ohiostatehouse.org
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Population: 1.7 million, 15th in US
Distance (from London) 520 km
Distance (from Toronto) 690 km
Columbus No. 1 – No. 1 zoo (Columbus Zoo and Aquarium), No. 1 public library (Columbus Metropolitan Library), No. 1 science centre (COSI), No. 1 ice cream (Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream) – independent U.S. rankings, Revealed Columbus
Columbus No. 3 – Fashion centre in U.S. behind NYC and LA
Hooray for Columbus: World-best restoration district (German Village) where more than 1,600 buildings have been restored since 1960.
What to say: When you hear “O-H” – the answer is “I-O” helping the spell-it-out cheer “Oh-aitch-eye-oh” for the perfect state of mind
What not to say: The impression here is that “Goodbye, Columbus” and “Hello, Columbus” (ha ha) have long since passed their expiry date in central Ohio.
Website: Visit experiencecolumbus.com or call 1-866.397.2657 for details on many attractions and guide to Experience Columbus Days, Oct. 11-14. Experience Columbus is the convention and visitors’ bureau. The Columbus Experience, Its big event offers 50% discounts on attractions and 25% off food bills at more than 50 participating restaurants.