Live Entertainment Venues in Columbus, OH
When they aren’t hosting a Blue Jackets hockey game, Nationwide Arena is home to a huge variety of live events. Big name concerts and comedians often schedule shows here, as well as wrestling, monster trucks and rodeos. Characters on ice usually grace the stage in the winter, and Sesame Street characters stop by at least once a year for the little ones. Since Nationwide is the largest live event venue in Columbus, seats don’t usually sell out very quickly. The place was designed so that there’s not a bad seat in the house – meaning no one has an obstructed view. Still, the highest seats are really high and it’s a pretty steep climb, so if you’re afraid of heights try to get your tickets early. Bring extra money to park. Most lots nearby charge up to $20 to park on event days.
The Schottenstein Center, affectionately called “The Schott” by locals, is located on the campus of The Ohio State University. It’s the home of the school’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the men’s hockey team. If catching one of those teams in action isn’t quite what you had in mind, don’t worry – The Schott has lots more to offer. They are often the landing the spot for big concerts that come to town, and sometimes home to other character shows. Parking is ample on-site, and whether or not there is a charge depends on the event. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive, since there’s really only one freeway that takes you there and two roads that access the place, traffic gets pretty backed up on event days.
The Ohio Theatre will take your breath away, long before the talent hits the stage. The historic theatre is done in Spanish-Baroque style, and there’s no place like it anywhere else in Columbus. The fine detail starts on the floor and continues all the way across the ceiling, including the massive 21-foot chandelier. The theatre is home to CAPA and Broadway Across America productions, as well as the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and many other traveling talents. There isn’t a parking lot or garage for this theatre, but several lots nearby open up for shows, including the parking garage at the Ohio Statehouse across the street. Most nearby parking spots cost $5 or less.
The Palace Theatre is an excellent place to enjoy a night of theatre. When you walk in the doors, you feel like you’ve been transported to an old movie. The seats are comfy and intimate, and there’s really not a bad seat in the house. Park at the LeVeque Tower, located behind the theatre, for just $5 on the nights of shows. Take the second floor of the tower around to the elevator and down to the first floor, and you’ll find yourself at the main entrance of the theatre with only a few steps outside. This little detour is great when it’s raining or cold, which is often the case in Columbus. Be sure to take a bathroom break before you arrive – the lines during intermission are some of the longest in town.
Sometimes this place is an indoor venue, and sometimes it’s an outside venue. It really just depends on the weather forecast and the band that’s playing. Big bands in nice weather get an outdoor amphitheater, but when the walls come up, it makes for a smaller, more intimate setting. There are no assigned seats outside of the VIP section, so come early for a good seat, especially if you want to be in the pit area. There are no chairs, just the ground. For some bands, the audience at the top of the hill does sit down, and in this case a blanket would be helpful. For other bands, everyone stands the entire show. Parking is pretty pricing in the Arena District, so bring cash for that.