Lotus World Music and Arts Festival has become as much a part of Bloomington culture as Little 500 and Nick’s English Hut.
I’ve attended Lotus several times as a high school student and during my undergraduate years, and I’m always impressed by the gathering of international musicians and artists and the staggering number of townies and students who celebrate them.
If you’ve never been to Lotus, you’re missing out on a special experience.
“Your wristband is a passport to the world,” Lotus Development Director Kristin Varella said. “It’s a chance to broaden your horizons.”
For me, the appeal is obvious. It’s all about the atmosphere.
Around the square downtown and onto Kirkwood Avenue, you’ll be enveloped by smiling faces, flashing lights and vibrant music.
Lotus brings international artists to Bloomington, showcases local acts and floods downtown with a totally different set of people, sights and sounds.
Lotus provides IU students the chance to embed themselves in Bloomington’s community, because it “enables people of all ages and abilities to attend,” Varella said.
It’s a chance to get a better sense of your city in addition to world music and art.
The main festival tents deserve the crowds they always draw, but Lotus features other events worth your attention.
Make sure to swing by the Arts Village on Sixth Street, where “there are a lot of opportunities for Lotus ticket holders and the general public to see installations from a wide array of organizations in Bloomington,” Varella said.
Always gorgeous and surreal, the free Arts Village wows festival goers with visual treats and interactive pieces.
The space on Sixth Street plays home to some of the quieter as well as not-so-quiet festival moments.
Make chalk art on the street with Kansas City artist Mark Glover. Get lost in the 200-panel Lotus Community Labyrinth inspired by African textiles. Dive into a school of inflatable fish carried by models wearing 2012 Trashion Refashion.
The Arts Village is always a surreal detour from the featured performances.
Another overlooked free admission event is Saturday’s Lotus in the Park, where international and locally featured performers play outdoors in Waldron, Hill and Buskirk parks.
It’s a great space to lounge in the sun with other community members, which is partly what Lotus is about.
Though it’s a little pricey, Lotus delivers a rare experience.
Most of my long nights of dancing and parading at Lotus have left me breathless, sweaty and smiling.
It’s the best way to discover music and art you might otherwise neglect.
“You get to see, learn and experience different cultures and people from all over the country and the world to learn what it means to be a citizen of the world,” Varella said.