What is What? Fest?

For many cities, it is quite common to host large-scale music and art festivals that receive a lot of buzz, but what does a small and locally organized festival look like? It looks exactly like What? Fest.

On July 27, What? Music and Arts Fest returned to the city of Columbus, Ohio, for its second year. Filled with local artists from all genres, What? Fest featured local musicians, DJs, live painters, performance artists, and more!

What? fest may not put Columbus on the map like the Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival or Breakaway Music Festival does, but it sure is showing how fast the art and music culture is growing in the city. The festival was held in and around a warehouse located in the West Franklinton area of Columbus, which is very fitting. Over the last couple of years, the Franklinton area has become known as one of Columbus’s most interesting and up-and-coming arts districts with its new breweries and warehouse art spaces.

Live artist  / Photo by Maria Cardillo

Inside What? Fest

When first walking inside the warehouse of What? Fest, it completely exceeded my exceptions. Immediately greeted with art from floor to ceiling, with everything from paintings to installations and experiential art. After checking out the art, festival-goers had the opportunity to dive into a fantasy world using VR technology, chill out in a healing circle, or get their jam on with the indoor stage, which featured local musicians in the rock, funk and jam category.

Band: Barefuzz / Photo by Maria Cardillo

Outside What? Fest

After exploring the two-story warehouse, you could make your way outside for more art, music, and vendors. The outside portion had a large stage which featured EDM performances that lasted all the way through the night. While the bass wobbled, featured artists live-painted, spray-painted, aerial-danced and hula-hooped. While the EDM stage enticed many, the silent disco was also a big hit, located at the back of the fest layout. A couple of local DJs played dance and house mixes that had everyone grooving to their own beat, especially with the option of switching between the two channels.

DJ:  Miklos B / Photo by Maria Cardillo


The overall experience and set up of the festival was truly impressive. It really showcased the beautiful and talented art community that resides in Columbus. To top it off, the Roochute, known from Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, made an appearance to promote togetherness and positivity, which was very fitting for the overall idea of What? Fest. From the creators to the engineers who all helped make it happen, it was an absolute success, and I will very much be looking forward to next year’s What? Music and Arts Festival.

Roochute  / Photo by Maria Cardillo

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WHAT? Music Festival




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