Summer on the Levee
Newport Levee Says “The More the Merrier”

This spring, Newport on the Levee is not the only game in town when it comes to playing and partying along the central riverfront. With the opening of several restaurants and bars at The Banks on the Cincinnati riverfront, there are now dueling Ohio River entertainment destinations.

But Newport on the Levee officials don’t see any major Levee vs. Banks rivalry. There’s no Banks-bashing coming from the Levee.

Their attitude is: the more the merrier.

“Really, we see The Banks as a positive thing,” says Christy Gloyd, Levee marketing director.

“Anything that can bring more people down to the riverfront on both sides is definitely a good thing for our region.”

Coming off its 10th anniversary year in 2011, Newport on the Levee is hardly resting on its laurels, planning several unique events to solidify its reputation as both a family and young adult/singles playground.

It’s been called the most popular attraction in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, drawing some 3.5 million visitors a year and was once ranked by Zagat as the country’s No. 1 mall/shopping attraction for families.

This season the Levee is launching a two-day jazz festival, more than doubling its weekly live music happy hour concerts, bringing back its arts and crafts festival and adding a speaker series.

“We are lucky to have the Newport Aquarium and the movie theaters that attract families.

“We then turn into more of an adult venue after 9 p.m.,” says Gloyd. “We can offer the best of both worlds.

We underwent some transitions and changes, we think for the better, after celebrating our 10th anniversary.”

Changes include two new restaurants this spring: pan-Asian Naked Tchopstix and Five Guys Burgers and Fries (in the former Johnny Rockets

New This Summer

Among the new events at the Levee this spring and summer:

• Newport, R.I. is famous for its jazz festival, so why not one for Newport, Ky? What’s billed as the “Newport, Ky. Jazz Festival” is May 12-13 in the Levee’s “front yard” along the riverfront. Five acts will be featured over the two days, headlined Mother’s Day by the renowned Blue Wisp Big Band. Other acts, ranging from contemporary jazz and standards to New Orleans funk, include Old Green Eyes, Monk River, Cincy Brass and Sound Body. Tickets range from $5 (lawn) to $20 (VIP).

The Live at the Levee Concert Series gets extended to 20 weeks (increased from eight weeks) running May 17 to Sept. 27. The bands (6:30-9 p.m. Thursdays at the Aquarium Plaza) represent a who’s who of the area’s most popular rock, soul and reggae cover groups including The Menus, Boo Bradley, Leroy Ellington & the E-Funk Band, Naked Karate Girls, Soul Pocket, DV8, The Webster’s and the Ark Band.

• It will be the second year for the Levee Fine Arts and Crafts Fair, May 5, featuring nearly 60 regional artisans, including painters, photographers, sculptors and handcrafted artists. The event also features a sidewalk chalk art contest.

• Wednesdays in May feature a new luncheon lecture series ranging from a husband/wife photographer team to a World War II pilot.

Hidden Gems

While the Levee is known for its bars and entertainment complexes like Jefferson Hall, Star Lanes, GameWorks and the Funny Bone Comedy Club, along with restaurant brands such as Brio Tuscan Grille, Mitchell’s Fish Market and Brothers Bar & Grill, the venue offers some other gems not as well known.

• Many swear the best views of the Cincinnati skyline can be found along the Levee River walk with plenty of outdoor seating from Mitchell’s to Jefferson Hall.

Locomotion on the Levee offers both dance and fitness classes including aerial hoop fitness presented by the Cincinnati Circus Company.

• The Levee has an animator program, which gives street performers the opportunity to perform at the Levee for tips.

• Kentucky-centric visitors will want to check out the recently opened Kentucky Haus Artisan Center located inside Kentucky Pickens at the Levee featuring seasonal products and creative works from Kentucky artists. ■

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