The post below was written by Emily Swartzlander of the Greater Columbus Arts Council . A celebrity author will visit Columbus during the Asian Festival this weekend, so Emily’s here to share the details along with her recommendations for an Asian-themed weekend in Columbus.


An Asian-themed weekend in Columbus, including FREE events with bestselling author Amy Tan by Emily Swartzlander, Greater Columbus Arts Council

Asian Festival

Experience Asian culture in Columbus this weekend as the Greater Columbus Arts Council , The Ohio State University and the Asian Festival culminate a month-long celebration of The Joy Luck Club with two free events featuring bestselling author, Amy Tan.

Her visit to Columbus is part of The Big Read , a month-long initiative to encourage reading among adults with events and discussions surrounding The Joy Luck Club.

Amy Tan will be the featured speaker for OSU’s President and Provost's 2008-09 Diversity Lecture & Cultural Arts Series on Fri., May 22 at 7 p.m. at Mershon Auditorium , where she’ll read from The Joy Luck Club, discuss her work and take questions from the audience. You can pick up your free tickets at the Mershon box office in advance or the day of the event. Then, on Sat. May 23, Tan will greet fans and sign books at the Asian Festival at noon in Franklin Park.

And while you’re at it, why not have an Asian-themed weekend in the city? Here are my suggestions on how to make it a weekend:

Friday Head to Mershon Auditorium for the free Amy Tan reading, then have a late dinner and drinks at Nida’s Thai on High in the Short North. Pad Thai and a dirty ginger martini? Nothing beats that!

For out of town guests, stay overnight at The Lofts hotel and try their Zoo A-Go-Go package. You’ll get overnight accommodations and up to four free passes to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – the #1 Zoo in America – where you can meet their new baby Asian elephant.

Saturday Head to brunch at Zencha Tea Salon , featuring specialty teas from throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. Plus, they have really yummy pancakes!

Then head over to the Asian Festival in Franklin Park for Amy Tan’s book signing. While you’re there, check out the Asian games section, where you can learn how to play Mahjong or Sepak-Tekraw. Or you can head to the Market Place for Asian artwork, gift items, spices, pottery and clothing for you or your friends.

Wrap up your day with that visit to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium , courtesy of your Lofts package, then head back downtown for dinner at the Indian Oven for a chic atmosphere and incredible Indian comfort food such as naan, tandoori and biryani. My favorite’s the Tandoori Chicken Makhni, which loosely translates to “butter chicken.” Delicious.

Photo by Randall Lee Schieber