Dayton’s biggest open house

Urban Nights returns to downtown

By Stacey Ritz

Photo: Urban Nights takes place from 5-10 p.m. on May 9; photo: Josh Mayes

“Urban Nights is one of the best nights to be downtown,” Mike Colvin, director of communications and marketing for the Downtown Dayton Partnership (DDP) said. “It’s a free event that showcases downtown’s dining, nightlife, art, music, retail, urban living options and more, twice a year – once in the spring and once in the fall.” 

Friday, May 9 from 5 – 10 p.m., come out and enjoy Urban Nights – a free downtown event featuring more than 100 venues and a large street party. Businesses and restaurants offer special discounts, artists and galleries open their doors to the public, musicians and entertainers of all kinds perform throughout the city center and several of downtown’s urban living options are open for tours. Creative places and spaces are part of the event, including locations throughout downtown, the Oregon District and Wright-Dunbar Business Village.

Street Art on Second, featuring the “Naked Prints Fair” by Dayton Visual Arts Center (DVAC) will feature an art bazaar in the street. Second Street will be closed between Main and Jefferson Streets to host this hotspot. “DVAC is thrilled to participate in Urban Nights again this year,” Eva Buttacavoli, Executive Director of DVAC said. “With the support of the Downtown Dayton Partnership, we are presenting Street Art on Second – a street party featuring art demos, t-shirt printing and affordable art by local artists from DVAC, Stivers, Sinclair and the Dayton Printmaker’s Cooperative, plus music and chalk drawing and art give-aways!” Meanwhile, another road closure will take place on St. Clair Street between Third and Fourth Streets for a brand new hotspot, Fashion Boulevard. 

“[Fashion Boulevard] will have Fashion Shows, makeovers, salon services on the street, beer, food, music and fun,” Emily Broughton, DDP special events manager said. You will also witness several fashion shows throughout the evening, including the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator (DE-FI), featuring models from Sinclair and the University of Dayton on a runway created down the middle of the street. Salon J. Ladner will also be providing free makeovers in the street. Be sure to check out these hotspots while attending Urban Nights!

Urban Nights will feature more than 100 venues – all of which are planning special activities for the night. Lily’s Bistro will celebrate its first anniversary by serving house-made lemonade on Fifth Street alongside a local artist, while also offering drink specials and a season dinner menu inside the restaurant. The Dayton Metro Library will be hosting a dance party featuring D.J. Funky G. You can even practice yoga and enjoy additional activities to promote health and physical fitness – including a jump rope demonstration by nationally ranked jump-ropers! 

All Pilates will be offering free posture consultations and Pilates demonstrations. If you’re interested in the arts, check out the CADC Gallery. The gallery will feature art demonstrations, caricatures and an introduction to their “Art Express Studio,” where participants can have a “Jackson Pollack-like experience.” The K12 Gallery for Young People & TEJAS will be hosting a free mosaic lamp-making workshop and Price Stores will feature art and framed quilts by Frances Turner and photo cards by Stephanie Williams of Maso Mad Photography. Clash Consignment will be opening an exhibit called Finders Keepers with two featured artists – Talia Shade and Greg Hunter. 

Looking for the music? Stop by Riverscape MetroPark for Newgrass music from Ryan & Brian, Blue Caboose and The Repeating Arms. And when you’re hungry, there will be plenty to eat and drink! Don’t forget to check out 5th Street Wine and Deli. They will be hosting a happy hour from 4 p.m. until close, with wine and beer tastings on the patio. 

“Nearly every restaurant, bar or club offers drink or food specials,” Colvin said. “Live music can be heard at dozens of businesses, at outdoor stages throughout downtown and even from roving entertainers strolling the downtown streets. Art is just about everywhere – not only in downtown’s galleries, but also special exhibits set up in retail stores and other unique spots. Several downtown apartments and condo developments will be open for tours, giving attendees a chance to see what downtown living is like. Everywhere you look, there’s something exciting to see and do!” 

The primary goal of Urban Nights is to showcase all that downtown Dayton has to offer, much like an open house event. According to Colvin, Urban Nights expects to draw upward of 30,000 people to the event. 

“It truly has become a tradition that people throughout the area look forward to and mark on their calendars as something not to be missed,” Colvin said. “Even those of us who live, work, learn and play downtown everyday still find ourselves amazed and overwhelmed – in a good way – by how much there is to do during Urban Nights and how creative the participants are in coming up with unique experiences to offer that night. When it all comes together in one night, it’s impressive – and it not only introduces new people to downtown’s unique experiences, but also reminds downtown veterans why we love being here so much.”

Urban Nights takes place  from 5 – 10 p.m. Friday, May 9. For more information, please call 937.224.1518 ext. 227 or visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Stacey Ritz at

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