The Lotus Education & Arts Foundation will transform downtown Bloomington later this month, hosting the 30th annual Lotus Festival from Sept. 28 - Oct. 1. The festival celebrates and explores the diversity of the world’s cultures through music, art and fun for all ages.
The festival will feature more than 25 musical artists and groups from around the world. Attendees can expect unique experiences and opportunities to expand their worldview through the arts.
Kathleen Clark, the Lotus Education & Arts Foundation communications and marketing specialist, said that the festival is a perspective-changing experience.
“Everyone who attends always learns something new about other cultures and probably about themselves,” Clark said. “It really marks an opportunity for people to connect through the arts.”
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This year, the Lotus Festival will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday with an opening concert featuring bold harmonies by Windborne and an infectious Afrobeat style from Baba Commandant & The Mandingo Band. It will end with a closing concert at 3 p.m. Sunday from multi-instrumentalists Eric & Suzy Thompson and Punjabi artist Sonny Singh. Both concerts will be held at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.
Additional artists will perform from 6 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday at various locations in downtown Bloomington. With no headliner, the lineup of performers highlights the talents of each artist equally.
Anyone interested in attending the concert series can purchase tickets in advance for discounted prices. Tickets are available for single-day admission as well as all-inclusive access, ranging from $40 to $95. For students on a budget, the festival offers a student ticket price of $35 for entrance to the Friday or Saturday showcase.
Clark said this year, the festival is implementing a new way for attendees to experience the music of other cultures.
The Lotus One World Dance Hall, located at the Waldron Arts Center Auditorium during the festival, will feature bands who play culturally specific dance music in genres like bachata, Cajun and old time. Each artist will include 15 minutes of dance instruction at the beginning of their set, teaching the audience a few basic movements from the genre’s specific dance.
“It allows audience members the option to boost their confidence on the dance floor,” Clark said.
Larson Parker, a junior at IU, has attended the Lotus Festival twice and said he enjoyed the diversity and discovery that the concert series offers.
“The fact that there was authentic music from all over the country and all over the globe was awesome,” Parker said. “I found different types of music that I didn't realize even existed.”
Parker added that the Lotus Festival presents a rare opportunity for Indiana locals to broaden their worldview.
“I would definitely encourage people in Bloomington and Indiana to go because it’s not very often in the Midwest that you get this amount of cultural exposure,” Parker said.
In addition to the festival’s concert series, Lotus will also host many free activities that are open to the community.
From noon-5 p.m. Saturday at Waldron Hill Buskirk Park, the festival will hold outdoor performances and demonstrations by Lotus Festival artists, as well as merchandise tents, food trucks and interactive visual arts activities. As an outlet for winding down from the weekend’s festivities, Lotus Fest will also host come-and-go yoga sessions from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday for people of all skill levels.
Tamara Loewenthal, the artistic director of the Lotus Education & Arts Foundation, said the success of such a large, multifaceted festival is achieved through the hard work of volunteers.
“Volunteers are absolutely an integral part [of the festival],” Loewenthal said. “Without them we could not do an event this size.”
Anyone 16 or older interested in volunteering can sign up until Sept. 29 and will receive a free T-shirt as well as free admittance to the festival on Friday or Saturday night.
For more information on Lotus Festival’s performers and activities, visit the Lotus Education & Arts Foundation website.