Get pumped. The Arnold Sports Festival and Fitness Expo kicks off today.
An estimated 200,000 fitness enthusiasts, athletes, sports fans and spectators are expected to flock Downtown to the annual event named after one of the world’s best-known bodybuilders, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Here are eight things you need to know to get ready for the big weekend:
1. What is it?
The Arnold Sports Festival is the largest multi-sport festival in the nation — even bigger than the Olympics — with about 20,000 athletes from 80 nations competing in 70 sports and events. The Expo will feature more than 1,000 booths of the latest in sports equipment, apparel and nutrition among competition stages. Most events are Friday-Sunday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center and the Ohio Expo Center.
2. When did it start?
Schwarzenegger and sports promoter Jim Lorimer have co-produced the U.S. festival in Columbus since 1989, when it debuted as a one-day bodybuilding competition known as the Arnold Classic. They now host multi-sport festivals on five other continents: Australia, South America, Africa, Asia and Europe.
3. How much does it cost?
A daily Expo ticket is $15 in advance and $20 at the door, which offers admission into the Arnold Fitness Expo and most other events. A three-day ticket is $40 in advance. Children 14 and under are free with an adult. Buy tickets and admission to other special events at ticketmaster.com/arnold.
4. How do I get there?
Free shuttles will connect every Downtown hotel to the Greater Columbus Convention Center for most of the weekend. A shuttle from there heads to the Ohio Expo Center. (View a shuttle map and schedule.) The Columbus Commons parking garages should have spaces available and guests can reserve other parking spots online ahead of time through Parking Panda.
5. What’s new?
New events in 2017 include lacrosse, disabled power-lifting, yoga classes and competitions, handball, the Arnold Pro Strongwoman, Indoor Scottish Highland Games and the Arnold Transformation Challenge. That’s in addition to the iconic bodybuilding competitions and sporting events and everything in-between.
6. Is it kid-friendly?
Children are encouraged to come to the Ohio Expo Center’s Bricker Building for the Arnold Sports World Kids & Teens Expo on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a smorgasbord of interactive sport demonstrations and activities with more than 200 vendors, zip-lining and a stage with nonstop entertainment.
7. Will Arnold be there?
Of course! Though it’s possible to spot Schwarzenegger maneuvering through throngs of people throughout the weekend (just look for the swarming fans) he’ll make some public appearances to present awards and take photos, too. His Sunday showcase from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Batelle Grand is the only opportunity to engage with him in an open forum. Tickets cost $25.
8. Where can I learn more?
Check Dispatch.com all weekend for coverage of competitions, athlete profiles and feature stories about new events. Visit arnoldsportsfestival.com and follow the Arnold on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.