Friday, Sept. 23
Kings Island's Halloween Haunt
Ghosts, ghouls and goblins return to roam the grounds of Kings Island during Halloween Haunt, voted the No. 1 "Best Theme Park Halloween Event" in 2021 by USA Today readers. Guests can wander through six terrifying themed mazes, like the "Slaughter House," or freak themselves out in one of four scare zones. There are also slightly spooky live shows and select rides will be open. Through Oct. 29. Tickets start at $44.99. Kings Island, 6300 Kings Island Drive, Mason, visitkingsisland.com.
Kroger Wellness Festival
Kroger is bringing its Wellness Festival to The Banks with a big ol' roster of health and fitness celebs, wellness experts and... Carrie Underwood, leading a cardio class. The goal of the fest is to “provide a variety of interactive healthy opportunities for the entire family,” Kroger Health president Colleen Lindholz said in a release. The unique lineup of over 60 panel discussions, food demonstrations and live music includes stars like Chrissy Teigen, Bethenny Frankel, Abby Wambach and more, plus bands Fitz & The Tantrums and The Eli Young Band. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 23 and Sept. 24. Free admission. The Banks, Downtown, kroger.com. Read CityBeat's story about everyone you can see at the festival.
Cincinnati Comic Expo
Celebrities and comic creators descend on the Duke Energy Convention Center this weekend for the Cincinnati Comic Expo. A pop culture party, the lineup of film and TV stars slated to attend includes Christopher Lloyd, William Shatner, Richard Dreyfuss, Tom Arnold, Bonnie Wright and more. There's also a stacked supply of comic creators, from those behind Marvel and DC titles to indies. The con also boasts some tabletop and video gaming opportunities, some cosplay and a Star Wars-themed "Geek Prom." 3-8 p.m. Sept. 23; 10 am.-7 p.m. with a "Geek Prom" 7 p.m.-midnight Sept. 24; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 25. $25 one-day admission Sept. 23 or 25; $35 one-day Sept. 24; $60 weekend; $35 Geek Prom. Duke Energy Convention Center, 525 Elm St., Downtown, cincinnaticomicexpo.com.
Cincinnati continues to embrace its German heritage with ongoing Oktoberfest celebrations. This weekend, there's one in Newport. There will be German bands, food and beer. Gorge on goetta balls, currywurst and cream puffs while polka-ing to tunes from the likes of the Festmeisters. There will also be game including a stein-holding contest, brat toss, log sawing, hammerschlagen and the ever-popular chicken dance. 5-11 pm. Sept. 23; noon-11 p.m. Sept. 24 and 25. Free admission. Festival Park, Newport on the Levee, Newport, thingstodocincinnati.com.
Merchants & Music Festival
This two-day festival features art, furniture and more from local artists plus music from area musicians. Saturday night will conclude with country pop artist Dylan Scott. The Kids Zone will offer kid-friendly fun like face painting, inflatables, jugglers and more from the Cincinnati Circus. There will also be beer tents and food vendors around the festival. Activities start at 5 p.m. Sept. 23; 2 p.m. Sept. 24. Free admission. Tower Park Amphitheater, 900 Cochran Ave., Fort Thomas, merchantsandmusic.com.
Whispering Beard Folk Festival
The two-day celebration of all things Americana and folk music is set to take place at Carriage House Farm in North Bend, Ohio, just a short day trip from Cincinnati. The lineup includes The Harmed Brothers, Tillers, The Deslondes and more. Music starts at 4 p.m. Sept. 23 and 3 p.m. Sept. 24. $45 daily ($50 day-of); $70 weekend ($75 day-of weekend); camping fees vary. Carriage House Farm, 2872 Lawrenceburg Road, North Bend, whisperingbeard.com.
Saturday, Sept. 24
Great Outdoor Weekend
Fall is almost here, and the weather in Cincinnati is looking incredibly comfortable this weekend. And to encourage locals to head outdoors, the 19th-annual Great Outdoor Weekend is offering more than 100 free activities across area parks, rivers, trails and more. Presented by regional sustainability alliance Green Umbrella and partner organizations, adults and kids alike can expect to partake in events ranging from outdoor concerts to free pedal boat rentals at Winton Woods harbor and a bunny meet-and-greet at Gorman Heritage Farm to a birding hike at William Harbin Park. Event times and locations vary Sept. 24 and Sept. 25. Free admission. Find a full schedule at greatoutdoorweekend.org.
According to legend, the bodies of several missing Dent Schoolhouse students were discovered in barrels in the building’s basement — and the janitor did it. Housed in an actual public school, Dent offers real ghost tours and lights-out experiences for those looking for a true fright, plus lights-on tours for kids (and wimps).Through Nov. 5. Tickets start at $25. 5963 Harrison Ave., Dent, dentschoolhouse.com.
Lebanon Country Applefest
Head to Lebanon for the annual Country Applefest, where you can check out over 300 arts, crafts and food vendors serving up everything apple-related. Bring on the fall with apple donuts, pies and more, plus live entertainment and fun for the whole family. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 24; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sept. 25. $1 for anyone over 12. Warren County Fairgrounds, 665 N. Broadway, Lebanon, countryapplefest.com.
Paws in the Park
Enjoy an afternoon of pet-focused fun at Summit Park this weekend. There will be a shopping area with both human and animal-related vendors plus "pup-art" activities and a "Yappetizer" bar. There will also be live entertainment including music and a performance from the "Super Collies" who were featured on America's Got Talent. There will be an agility course, treat station and photo booth plus food trucks for owners. The event benefits the United Pet Fund which provides assistance to independent animal care facilities across the Midwest. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 24. Free admission. Summit Park, 4335 Glendale Milford Road, Blue Ash, facebook.com.
Oktoberfest Beer Tasting + Tour at Rookwood Pottery
Rookwood Pottery is hosting a special tour and tasting with Rhinegeist. Enjoy a cold brew inside a limited-edition Rhinegeist-themed beer stein. Samples of beer will be provided as guests take a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the pottery studio. 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sept. 24. $95. Rookwood Pottery, 1920 Race St., Over-the-Rhine, rookwood.com.
Local Trans Author's Sci-Fi Book Signing at College Hill Coffee Co.
Local author Jay VanLandingham’s debut dystopian sci-fi novel “Sentient” shows how all of society’s current woes could compound by 2040 despite significant technological advancements. VanLandingham, a transgender, non-binary animal rights activist, pours their heart onto the page — they write with authority and give the reader every reason to believe we are in for even more troubled times if things don’t change soon. Utilizing several sci-fi tropes, “Sentient” serves as a captivating-yet-stern cautionary tale against unchecked power and its effect on animals, the climate and humanity as a whole. VanLandingham has a book signing and the author will read select excerpts from “Sentient” at the appearance, answer questions from the audience and sign books. For more information, visit jayvanlandingham.com. Noon Sept. 24. Free. College Hill Coffee Co., 6128 Hamilton Ave., collegehillcoffeeco.com.
Sunday, Sept. 25Murder on the Orient Express at the Aronoff Center
This Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park production happens beyond Eden Park as the theater finishes construction of its new mainstage. A classic mystery, Murder on the Orient Express features Agatha Christie’s master detective Hercule Poirot. He is determined to seek out a killer in a crowd of glamorous passengers on a luxury train trapped in a snowdrift. Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of this ingenious golden-age detective story springs to life onstage. Through Oct. 23. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, cincinnatiarts.org.
Queen City Artisan Festival
The last Sunday of every month Washington Park hosts the Queen City Artisan Festival which features local artists, restaurants and other makers. Hosted by Cincinnati food and beverage company Queen City Lemonade, the event sets out to "celebrate the small business renaissance." There will be live entertainment plus a full bar at The Porch. Noon-6 p.m. Sept. 25. Free admission. Washington Park, 1230 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, washingtonpark.org.