Arts & Entertainment Business News

An Indie Guide to Cincinnati During the Holidays

With Thanksgiving behind us, the holidays are officially in full swing in Cincinnati. If you’re looking to get in the holiday spirit, there are dozens of options in the city center. While Downtown Cincinnati keeps the traditional holiday festivities on lock down with the Fountain Square ice rink and Holiday Junction at the Cincinnati Museum Center, Over-the-Rhine has embraced a more eclectic mix of urban craft markets, revisited German traditions, historic tours, and local shopping. If you’re looking for more than wassailing and Breakfast with Santa this season, check out UrbanCincy’s round up of things to see and do in Cincinnati’s city center.

Beginning this weekend, the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce kicks off the holiday shopping season on Black Friday with its sixth annual “Holidays in the Bag” special. Purchase a bag and receive discounts from over 25 participating businesses in OTR. Bags cost $5 and this year’s proceeds from bag sales benefit Future Leaders OTR. Score deals from new OTR businesses like Homage, Brezel, Macaron Bar, and Cincy Shirts, and more. Check out the full list of discounts here.

In addition to Black Friday specials, OTR will also continue its regular Final Friday gallery hop with a variety of events and shop specials. November’s Final Friday art walk will include Walk This Way, a pop-up art gallery inside OTR’s alleys. Located between Clay Street and 13th Street, the event transforms Drum Alley and Coral Alley into an artist market featuring over 13 local artists, a majority of whom are students from Art Academy of Cincinnati. Walk This Way is a collaboration between Spring in Our Steps, the Art Academy and Urban Sites. Afterward head back to 13th street for another pop-up shop at Exposure/13, the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s student-run gallery.

Other Thanksgiving weekend highlights in OTR include the kickoff of the OTR-a-Glow window display competition, Small Business Saturday, and Main Street Stroll and Shop and Caroling.

Several indie pop-up markets in the city center will highlight fine art and handmade goods by regional artists. Visit the fifth annual Crafty Supermarket at Music Hall November 29 to browse 90 crafters, artists, and makers from the eastern U.S. On Sunday, November 30, City Flea Small Mall brings together local brick and mortar businesses like Parlour, Leftcoast Modern, indigenous, Fern Studio, Casablanca Vintage, Rock Paper Scissors, and more. This year the second annual event will expand into Contemporary Arts Center in addition to its original location at 21c Museum Hotel.

Looking for more opportunities to shop local? Findlay Market will host “Christmas at the Market” December 6, 7, 13 and 14 where visitors can find gifts, holiday entertainment, warm drinks and the Caracole Christmas tree sale. Other craft markets include Art Academy of Cincinnati’s Snowflake Sale on December 6, featuring fine art, crafts, “poetry while you wait,” on-site screen printing and a clothing swap, Art on Vine’s holiday market at Rhingeist on December 14 and City Flea’s special nighttime Unwrapped Market at Washington Park on December 15.

Washington Park will host several holiday events this season. In addition to regular weekend programming like caroling at the bandstand and visits to Santa’s Workshop on Saturday afternoons, Washington Park hosts its fourth annual Light Up OTR party. On December 12 the community is invited to assemble and distribute over 1,000 luminaries. Afterward Washington Park will light its Christmas Tree.

The holidays are also an excellent opportunity to catch special holiday arts events and concerts. For those looking to tap into their German roots, American Legacy Tour hosts Christmas Saengerfest December 5 and 6. More than a dozen regional choirs will perform at venues including Memorial Hall, Christian Moerlein Brewery, and St. Francis Seraph.

Meanwhile, The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Pops have a full concert schedule through December 21 and theater nerds can delight in Know Theatre’s Bureau of Missing Persons and Ensemble Theater’s Sleeping Beauty.

If urban exploration is more your thing, consider the Main Street OTR Walking Tours. These new guided walking tours will explore the architecture and history of Over-the-Rhine’s Main Street. Tours will be available December 6 and December 11. For a more traditional trip downtown, free horse drawn carriage rides are available on weekends through December 14. More downtown holiday activities can be found at

What are your new favorite holiday traditions in Cincinnati? Share your favorite off-the-beaten path traditions with us in the comment section.

Development News

PHOTOS: Take A Look Inside Cincinnati’s Deteriorating Union Terminal

Cincinnati’s Union Terminal is one of the few remaining gems of its kind. In addition to being a part of the golden era for passenger rail travel, the grand structure also pioneered the modern, long-distance travel building architecture for many of today’s airports.

Built the 1933, the impressive Art Deco structure was originally designed by Steward Wagner and Alfred Fellheimer as a passenger rail station. When it opened it even included a large terminal building that extended over the railroad tracks below.

After train service was drastically reduced in 1971, the building began to languish. Shortly thereafter, freight railroad companies moved in to acquire some of the land and the terminal building was removed. Facing imminent demolition approximately one decade later, Hamilton County voters approved a bond levy to restore the structure.

When renovations were complete in 1990, some passenger rail operations were restored and what we know of today as the Museum Center moved in. However, not much has been done to maintain the building since that time and even those repairs that were done in the late 1980s were only some of what was needed. That means the building is once again in need of an overall in order to stay in use.

On Tuesday, November 4, Hamilton County voters will once again decide the fate of one of the region’s most prominent landmarks. They will go to the polls to decide whether they want to initiate a quarter-cent sales tax to provide up to $170 million for the $208 million project.

To get a better idea of the current conditions of Union Terminal, I took a behind the scenes tour of the facility two weeks ago. There is noticeable water damage throughout the building, some visible structural damage and outdated HVAC systems that are driving up maintenance costs for the behemoth structure.

Whether this particular region icon is saved once more by the voters of Hamilton County, or not, is something we will soon find out.

EDITORIAL NOTE: All 11 photos were taken by Jake Mecklenborg for UrbanCincy on Saturday, September 27.

Arts & Entertainment News

Cleopatra brings ancient Egypt to the Queen City

Cleopatra’s body was never found, but all of her stuff is currently in residence at 1301 Western Avenue, right here in Cincinnati. Cleopatra VII, the infamously beautiful political leader who seduced two of the world’s most powerful men, can be seen in all her past, present and future glory at “Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt” at Cincinnati Museum Center.

The exhibition boasts nearly 150 artifacts that range from coins with her portrait to towering statues. The  pieces were uncovered during the modern-day expeditions led by Egyptian archeologist and Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs, Dr. Zahi Hawass, and French underwater archeologist and Director of IEASM (Institut Européen d’Archéologie Sous-Marine), Franck Goddio. Since they began uncovering the elusive queen’s world by land and sea, the two men have done as much for Cleopatra’s legacy as Julius Caesar and Marc Antony.

Destroyed by an earthquake, subsequent tsunami, and a classic case of the Roman Empire determined to erase it from history, Cleopatra’s life and world have been hidden for nearly 2,000 years. Franck Goddio began his ambitious dive to the ocean floor in 1992 and has since uncovered Cleopatra’s royal palace and two ancient cities lost to the natural disasters, Canopus and Heracleion. On land, Dr. Hawass and his team are on the hunt for the tomb of Cleopatra and Marc Antony, but in the interim have uncovered artifacts (coins, statues, shafts) from the temple of Taposiris Magna.

Patrons are taken through Cleopatra’s lost world in a gorgeous underwater setting with the exhibits narrated by the queen herself.  Divided into eight separate, chronological galleries, the Cincinnati Museum Center provides a comprehensive display of the world as it was and gives viewers a new prospective on the politically ambitious pharaoh. As one walks through the maze of never-before-seen artifacts, she explains her family, husbands, decisions, and love for Egypt and its people.

“I am so proud that Cincinnati Museum Center is able to provide our community with this tremendous window on the world and Cleopatra’s remarkable story,” said Douglas W, McDonald, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center. “This is a must-see experience of Cleopatra’s power, mystery, ambition strategy, romance, glamour and economic success. It helps us recognize the unique culture and priceless antiques Egypt offers the world looking back on humanity over thousands of years.”

“Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt” is currently at Cincinnati Museum Center. The queen will be in the Queen City until September 5, 2011 and admission price ranges from$14 to $23. Tickets are timed and dated and admission is 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays (last entry at 5 p.m.), 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (last entry 8 p.m.), 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sundays (last entry 6 p.m.). Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. For more information on the exhibit visit their website or call 513-287-7001.