Large Events

Advancing Places: Why Festivals and Events?

As place management professionals, we are often charged with creating ways to bring people downtown and to our neighborhood districts.  Join this session and learn from three seasoned professionals why they produce festivals and events for their districts.  Who benefits and what does it take to produce them.  

Leading Recovery Through Events & Programming

As we all continue to recover from the setbacks of the last few years, downtown economic development professionals and marketing experts have found unique ways to accelerate the recovery and shape the narrative by creating and promoting compelling new programs and events for their districts.

Festival of Markets

The Festival of Markets took place in December 2021 for four consecutive weekends on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and a one day event held on December 23rd. Each weekend had a different theme and vendors including IndigenART, POPArt, Very Vintage Xmas, Afrik and Last Minute London. Vendors who were featured at our Festival of Markets came from various ethnicities including individuals from African, Asian and Indigienous descent as well as members from the LGBTQ+ community.

Marriages on The Mile – Weddings at Wrigley

Marriages on The Mile – Weddings at Wrigley was a first-time event collaboration between The Magnificent Mile Association and The Wrigley Building/Zeller. It existed as the premier event of a larger closed-street activation series on Michigan Avenue. The event featured 50 real-time weddings for couples displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic in a very public, very Chicago-centric location on The Magnificent Mile as part of the free, accessible lineup of programming on September 26, 2021.

Night Circus: A District New Year’s Spectacular

The Cool Spring Downtown District partnered with the city to launch the inaugural Night Circus: A District New Year’s Eve Spectacular. The family-friendly event was the first NYE celebration to occur in the city in nearly a decade. The event brought the magic of a traveling circus to the heart of Fayetteville. As the last seconds to midnight counted down, a commissioned 18ft. multi-colored star rose above the crowd, illuminated at midnight from within and without via a vibrant fireworks display.

Sundays on State

Chicago Loop Alliance identified the need for a program to accelerate economic recovery, unite the community, and create joy. The project also needed to encourage people back to the Loop and restore their perception of the area. The concept for Sundays on State was to close Chicago’s most iconic street, to all traffic on select Sundays during the summer and transform into an open street full of art, culture, active recreation, food, drinks, shopping, and local attractions.

The Junction Window Wonderland Exhibition

Toronto’s magical Window Wonderland, a free immersive urban art walk, returned to the Junction for its second consecutive year. From November 2021 to January 2022, Window Wonderland transformed the Junction into an interactive, outdoor gallery featuring 20 unique augmented reality (AR) installations by 40 talented local and international artists.


Market was a series of outdoor summer artisan markets in collaboration with local artist collectives. On three weekends in the summer of 2021, visitors could enjoy an outdoor craft fair, and then stick around to see what else was happening in the neighbourhood.

$3 Food Walk & Station Opening Festival

The $3 Food Walk and U District Station Opening Festival was an all-day event planned and executed by the U District Partnership to celebrate two neighborhood milestones: the return of 73,000 students, faculty, and staff in-person at the University of Washington, and the opening of a Light Rail Station. The event featured street closures, colorful decorations, a main stage with eight local performance groups, a beer garden, and a $3 food walk with 45 participating U District businesses.

Bringing People Back Downtown Through Marketing and Events

People are eating out, going to events, and traveling again… so why do some districts feel as alive as ever while other districts struggle to bring people back? In this presentation, leaders from districts of all sizes will share the placemaking, events and marketing strategies that have brought visitors, tourists, and even office workers back downtown. Learn why some audiences are reluctant to return, and the role districts can play in persuading them to fall in love with our districts again.

Rob Higgins Master Talk

Since 2004, Rob Higgins has promoted the development of community sports and led the Tampa Bay Sports Commission as the principal organization that bids on and hosts sports and entertainment events in the Tampa Bay area.

Downtown Sioux Falls Burger Battle

Perhaps the best way to describe Burger Battle is to share the copy from DTSF’s website: Prepare your taste buds for battle! The 8th Annual Downtown Burger Battle presented by the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Foundation kicks off January 2, 2021 and will continue through the month of January. Participating restaurants will exemplify the breadth and variety of downtown dining by showcasing the classic American burger.


Downtown Vision designed Halloweek as our first foray into holding safe events and promotions during the pandemic. This multi-pronged holiday celebration allowed us to promote and support Downtown Jacksonville’s small businesses and to create socially distanced, family friendly events for Halloween week 2020. Three key elements composed Halloweek: Decorating Downtown, Driving Traffic to Small Businesses, and Creating a Socially Responsible, Family Friendly Event for the Community.

Holiday Movie Food and Drink Week

Downtown Norfolk Council produced the first ever Holiday Movie Food and Drink Week. For this special holiday celebration, Downtown Norfolk chefs got creative and had a lot of fun reimagining iconic food and drinks from everyone’s favorite holiday movies and specials. For one week from December 4-11, Downtown Norfolk restaurants put their own unique spin on recognizable food, drinks, and memorable scenes from holiday classics for a creative and delicious helping of festive nostalgia.

Advancing Places: Holiday and Winter Place Activations

It may be summer but it’s never too early to start thinking about holiday events, lighting and winter activations. Join this webinar to hear how Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. is embracing all seasons to make it a four seasons city. During the pandemic they curated a two-month long activation, “World of Winter.” This 2021 Pinnacle Award-winning project attracted over 400,000 attendees during the cold winter months. Next, learn about holiday and lighting programs from the Georgetown BID. And finally, Midtown Alliance in Atlanta will present how they have added onto their Midtown Bright program each year as it continues to grow.

’80s Mall Party

In 2018 we moved our offices into the old Main Street Mall in downtown Little Rock. In the early 1980s the building was full of retail stores and restaurants. However, the state of Arkansas wound up purchasing the building and converting it into a variety of state agency offices – but the interior remained untouched. Think glass block, black and white tile, teal paint and colors, neon signs, glass elevators and working escalators. It was a space screaming for a throwback ’80s party!


No parent wants to tell their child “no” to a birthday party, but in Memphis, a city where nearly a quarter of families live below the poverty line, parents may not have the resources to throw that dream birthday party. Watching families host small parties in our parks, we saw an opportunity to condense resources and throw the BIG BIRTHDAY BASH! Set on Mud Island River Park the event featured bounce houses, water slides, games, cake and more all for free and close to 2,000 people attended.

San Antonio Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead Celebrations

Historically San Antonio has been home to numerous Día de los Muertos celebrations that would be hosted in parallel. Seeing an opportunity for collaboration, community leaders gathered the independent hosts to put together a united Día de los Muertos event that would make San Antonio a top destination for a Día de los Muertos experience. Partnerships with Visit San Antonio as well as community corporate sponsorships support allowed for a heavy marketing strategy to areas outside of San Antonio.

Charlotte SHOUT!

With more than 175 art, music, food and ideas events offered over 13 days, Charlotte SHOUT! delivered something new and fresh to the city’s residents and visitors. A diverse mix of local artists, musicians, chefs and thought leaders joined renowned international talent to make the festival an unforgettable experience. The event also included unique cultural experiences like a live Indian wedding ceremony, interactive artwork, and community discussion.

Merry Madness

The first Thursday in December is a BIG night in Portland, Maine, as MERRY MADNESS takes over downtown! This event is Portland Downtown’s signature holiday shopping extravaganza, bringing together 1200 guests and more than 75 participating businesses for an evening of joy and merriment like no other.


IMMERSE is the annual performing and interactive arts event from the Creative City Project. 2018 platformed more than 1,000 artists and performers for an audience of 45,000 people. Creative City Project staff works with artists to create site-specific performances and installations in the streets of public spaces of downtown Orlando. IMMERSE 2018 connected residents of and visitors to Orlando with unique creative encounters that transform the way people see and experience the urban core.

Soda City Market

Columbia’s Soda City weekly street market started within the confines of a single block and now runs along the 1300-1500 blocks of Main Street and has a large economic impact. There are 5,000-7,000 visitors to Soda City Market on a regular Saturday and up to 10,000 on a special event day. Patrons can find farmers, artisans, and artists who all fall into one of three categories: Brain, Body, or Belly.

50th Annual Fall Tempe Festival of the Arts

This 3-day art festival takes place in the streets of Downtown a.k.a. the heart of Tempe. A .42-mile radius that spans from one of few Arizona reservoirs, Tempe Town Lake, to University Drive bordering the Arizona State University campus. One of our organization’s goal is to curate diverse and impactful experiences that cultivate community engagement, which is a major factor in why the Downtown Tempe BID produces the Tempe Festival of the Arts in-house.

Stuart Mangrum Master Talk

A member of the Burning Man community since 1993, Stuart was one of the organization’s first year-round volunteers. In his current role he focuses on cultural development programs including public education, staff and volunteer training, and historical documentation. He is also deeply involved in the event’s creative direction, as co-author of the last three event themes and a collaborator in designing the Black Rock City experience.

Downtown Topeka Events & Programming

Downtown Topeka, Inc. established a goal to make downtown the entertainment center of the community. To reach this objective Downtown Topeka, Inc. began creating events to attract a broad range of targeted demographics to rediscover and enjoy Topeka’s downtown. The goal was also to make a-majority-of the events Free to the public, this was accomplished through Business Improvement District funding and DTI sponsorship development.

Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest

For over 25 years, Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest, produced by the Downtown Fort Collins Business Association (DBA), has been an example of spirited collaboration, extensive outreach, elaborate planning and far-reaching economic and cultural impact. This family-friendly, three-day music festival is co-produced by the DBA and Bohemian Nights and is a primary fundraiser for the DBA’s year-round programming and public space initiatives.

Inspired by IDA: The 2017 State of Downtown

In 2014, Downtown Fresno Partnership (DFP) reimagined their State of Downtown as a happy hour event that engaged a non-traditional audience instead of the standard sit-down meeting. During IDA’s Conference in San Francisco, Kate Joncas, deputy mayor of Seattle, said, “You gotta leave people wowed.” When planning began for the 2017 State of Downtown, DFP set out to make it a celebration of the businesses, organizations and partnerships that work every day to form downtown’s unique atmosphere.

Downtown in December

In 2016, Downtown Greensboro, Inc. (DGI) was tasked with taking over the annual Festival of Lights, a hallmark holiday event for the community. With the goal of “lighting up downtown” throughout the holidays, DGI expanded holiday programming and created “Downtown in December,” a month-long celebration featuring the Festival of Lights, a holiday parade, carolers, Santa visits, an ice rink and a Santa-Con pub crawl.

Main Street Food Truck Festival

About six years ago, the Downtown Little Rock Partnership began focusing on Main Street’s empty buildings by boarding up the windows and creating the Main Street Food Truck Festival (MSFTF) DLRP’s aim was to bring people back to downtown. Since the festival began in 2011, restaurants, offices, a technology park, theaters, and art galleries have opened or reopened on Main Street. In that same time, food truck participation has increased 271% with diverse trucks from across the state joining.

Italian Fest

Recent residential and hotel developments heightened the need for The Boca Raton Community Redevelopment Agency to develop additional programming for the district. What evolved was an idea to celebrate Italian culture with the goal of creating an exciting and memorable event highlighting the downtown greenspace, and benefiting both attendees and the downtown merchant community.

First Wednesday Art Walk

For the past 13 years, Downtown Vision Inc. (DVI) has produced the First Wednesday Art Walk in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville. This innovative event acts as an economic development tool supporting downtown merchants and cultural entities while improving the vitality of downtown through the arts. With more than 10,000 people participating each month, Art Walk has grown into a treasured street festival, one that is constantly reimagined to mirror the diversity of Jacksonville.

2017 Grand Illumination Parade – Facebook Live and TV Broadcast

The Downtown Norfolk Council (DNC) has produced the Grand Illumination Parade – the premier holiday parade in the region and a Southeast Tourism Top 20 Event – since 1985. Beginning in 1989, we broadcast the parade live in prime time on broadcast television as a way to further distinguish our parade as the region’s best. In 2016, with a tight budget, and changes in the way people are consuming media, we realized it was time to evaluate the current parade broadcast program and our objectives.

Madison Night Market

A late 2016 study of downtown retail, conducted by the City of Madison and the BID, entitled “Ensuring a Vibrant Downtown Retail Destination” encouraged retail pop-ups, shop-around promotions and specialty markets as strategies to support a healthy retail district. As a direct and immediate effort to undertake strategies recommended from the study, the BID hosted the 1st ever Madison Night Markets.

Music in the Park 2017 Marketing Campaign

With a newly created Marketing, Communications and Events Director on staff, San Jose Downtown Association took its four-concert Music in the Park series marketing to a whole new level, focusing on on-site digital photo kiosks, email marketing automation and strategic social media. Not only did Music in the Park achieve record attendance and revenues, marketing for the 2018 season and beyond has gathered momentum and general Downtown San Jose marketing capabilities have improved dramatically.

Nuart Aberdeen

Nuart Aberdeen is an internationally acclaimed, multi-award winning street art festival that premiered in Aberdeen in April 2017. The festival was delivered through developing a close collaborative approach with Nuart in Stavanger, Norway where it began in 2001 and is widely considered to be the world’s premier celebration of Street Art among its peers. Nuart Aberdeen was delivered by Aberdeen Inspired, the Business Improvement District (BID) organization.

Leeds International Festival (LIF)

Leeds Business Improvement District (LeedsBID) has acted as catalyst and funder for the realization of a vison to create an aspirational, overarching festival to promote the vitality of downtown as a world-class destination. From an initial proposal in September 2016, the inaugural Leeds International Festival (LIF) took place in April 2017; a festival of 35 events over 8 days in front of an audience of 17,000.

201 Portage Canada Day Living Maple Leaf

Since 2011, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ has been engaging the public by challenging Winnipeggers to help claim the title of largest living flag in Canada. Volunteers from the community are invited to become part of a larger mosaic in various iconic downtown locations. A banner year was in 2012, when Winnipeg’s Canada Living Flag defended its record, while the photo of that year’s living flag was selected to be produced as an official Canada Post stamp, inking over 10 million copies.