What and When is the Allentown Art Festival?
The Allentown Art Festival has been a fixture on the Buffalo cultural calendar for more than 60 years. First held in 1958 when it was known as “The Buffalo Art Festival,” the event has come to signal the coming of Buffalo’s summer season as thousands of Buffalonians and out-of-town visitors take to the streets in the first of a jam-packed calendar of special summer events.
The 2023 festival takes place June 10 & 11th.
The festival gets its name from the surrounding neighborhood that was named for an early 1800s farmer named Lewis Allen – not his more well-known contemporary counterpart Josh. (Don’t be confused by the “Welcome to Josh Allentown” banner hanging high above Allen Street).
Where is the Allentown Art Festival located?
The event is held in and around the corner of Delaware Avenue and Allen Street, just north of downtown Buffalo. The neighborhood has always been considered Buffalo’s “artsy” or bohemian district, and is packed with shops, galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and bars that make it a fun place to visit any time of the year. But during “Allentown,” as locals tend to call the festival, the neighborhood really shines with a special urban energy and funky vibe.
What is there to do at the Allentown Art Festival?
There is always so much to do at the Allentown Art Festival! As a fixture in Buffalo’s cultural calendar, many visitors enjoy the following activities and attractions.
1. View art, photography & gorgeous handcrafted items
At the Allentown Art Festival you’ll find fine art, photography, and handcrafted items across a spectrum of media for sale at price points starting at a few dollars upward to a few thousand for works of a more serious caliber. At the more modest end of that scale, it’s the rare home in Buffalo that doesn’t have something purchased at the festival.
2. Browse shops for special finds & deals
Shopping may be the order of the day over the course of the two-day event, but for many die-hard festivalgoers, it’s the spirit of community, sense of place and sheer exuberance of being out in the sunshine on the historic streets of Allentown that bring them back year after year.
3. Eat & drink in Allentown’s bars and restaurants
Of course, Allentown’s bevy of bars and restaurants where you can rest your feet, nurse a cool one and indulge in a little people watching after a winter spent indoors is more than likely the underlying motivation for many attendees. Pro tip: the lawn of the Hamlin House V.F.W. Post on Franklin Street is a particularly inviting spot to chill under a shady tree on a hot June day.
4. Head over to the nearby Allen West Festival
Another piece of insider intel: while the Allentown Art Festival is one of the largest art festivals in the Great Lakes region, it’s made even more impressive by the presence nearby of the Allen West Festival, which is held on the same weekend on the western portion of Allen Street.
It’s the funkier, slightly rebellious younger sibling of the now venerable Allentown Art Festival. Together, they make for a very special weekend on the streets of Buffalo.