Festival of the Arts to Host ‘PLEIN AIR’ Event in Downtown Grand Rapids June 4-6

While 2021 still presents challenges for large community events, Festival of the Arts plans to celebrate all things art with the community in a slightly different way this June. Event organizers are excited to announce PLEIN AIR by Festival of the Arts, which will take place in downtown Grand Rapids June 4-6, 2021.

En plein air is French for “outdoors.”

PLEIN AIR by Festival of the Arts expands the original plein air concept to include musicians and landscape artists within designated social zones and throughout downtown Grand Rapids. Festival goers will be encouraged to purchase food and drinks from local restaurants and enjoy them in social zones where live art and musical performances will be taking place all weekend long.

“Many of the traditional Festival activities have been put on hold this year due to the pandemic,” said David Abbott, executive director for Festival of the Arts. “We hope that PLEIN AIR will give the community a chance to see musicians playing and artists working to capture the urban landscape, all while maintaining a safe social distance.”

Event organizers have been working closely with local health officials and the City of Grand Rapids to create an event that will be safe and enjoyable for the entire community.

Individual instrumentalists will be hired to perform during Plein Air weekend. Applications for artists, musicians, and the virtual Regional Arts exhibition will open in March. The Regional ArtsExhibition will be coordinated virtually this year and available to view at with more than $10,000 to be awarded to outstanding local artists.

Festival’s iconic Calder Plaza performance stage and artisan village will be rescheduled for September 17-19, 2021, which is the first weekend of ArtPrize.

The details of the September live performance stage on Calder Plaza specifically are being consistently reviewed with the City of Grand Rapids and the Kent County Health Department to insure a safe and successful event for the community. >Festival’s leadership and board of directors believe delaying the live performance stage to September from its traditional first weekend in June date will allow the event to resemble more closely what artists, performers, volunteers, and audience participants have come to expect from West Michigan’s 50 + year legacy arts event.

The social distancing required to prevent the spread of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 Festival of the Arts, but as more people have learned how to manage social distancing, and giving more time for participants to be vaccinated, Festival leadership believes a later 2021 live performance and artisan village event is prudent.

“The safety of our valued volunteers, artists, performers, contributors, and the gathered audience remains the center of every decision we’ve made regarding Festival of the Arts providing a live>‘in person’ event,” said David Abbott, Executive Director, Festival of the Arts. “We certainly expect there to still be COVID-19 safety precautions in place this September. The arts leadership in Grand Rapids has learned a great deal on how to mitigate risk and still celebrate the awesome arts of the community. Trust that our leadership will be>vigilant>about a safe and successful live event in September.”

As a 501 C3 organization, Festival of the Arts is supported by local companies, foundations, organizations, individual donors and the West Michigan art community. Festival is grateful for continued support through this difficult time, which has helped make the 2021 event a reality. Information for those interested in donating to Festival of the Arts to ensure the event can take place for years to come can be found here:

About Festival of the Arts

Festival of the Arts, always the first full weekend of June, will take place as EN PLEIN AIR on June 4-5-6, 2021 in downtown Grand Rapids with additional performances scheduled on Calder Plaza for September 17-19, 2021 during ArtPrize. The festival celebrated 50 years in June of 2019 in downtown Grand Rapids. The family friendly free three-day event features several stages of performances taking place all day, a juried arts exhibition, and local food options. Festival also offers creative activities for children and adults to enjoy with opportunities to make your own art or purchase art from many West Michigan artists. For more information visit or check out Festival of the Arts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram