The Terminator, Conan the Barbarian, once-Governor of California; Arnold Schwarzenegger is known for many things, but he holds an especially dear place with the folks of Columbus for establishing the largest sporting event on the planet right here in this city. The Arnold Sports Festival, now in its 32nd year, will return March 5-8, 2020, and is expected to draw a crowd of 200,000 attendees along with 22,000+ athletes competing in over 80 different sports and events.
While fitness fanatics will find more than enough to thrill their senses at the Arnold, the event has something to entertain everyone. The people-watching alone will provide hours of amusement even to those who’ve never seen the inside of a gym. From strongman bodybuilding competitions to an art show, a massive expo to a star-studded celebrity after-party, the fest goes far beyond just the competitions, and you’ll want to see it all. Here are a few highlights to get you started.
Sports, Sports and more Sports:
While we recommend checking out any of the sporting events featured at The Arnold, the festival’s 8 IFBB Pro bodybuilding competitions are at the top of the must-see list. The event also features 11 Olympic sports, a Martial Arts Festival featuring 14 different disciplines and styles, boxing & MMA matches, and an endless roster of other events ranging from cheerleading, dance and yoga to disc golf, medieval fighting and cup stacking; the list goes on and on.
Arnold Fitness Expo:
Find free samples and photo ops galore at this expo, which serves at the heart of the Arnold and features more than 1,000 different vendor booths peddling the latest in fitness and nutrition. The expo also includes celebrity meet and greets, obstacle courses and interactive activities, plus four stages of nonstop entertainment, demos and competitions including the official Arnold Strongman Classic.
Date: Friday-Sunday, March 6-8 | Location: Greater Columbus Convention Center, main exhibit halls | Admission: $20 advance / $25 door / under age 14 free
Arnold SportsWorld Kids & Teens EXPO:
This family-friendly portion of the Arnold features two days of celebs, activities and sports for a range of ages. Guests can spectate youth competitions like the Arnold’s Strongest Teen contest, fitness pageants, weightlifting and a talent show, try their hand at 20 different sports stations alongside professional athletes, and enjoy a schedule packed full of games and demos. Other features include bounce houses, bull riding, face painting, ziplines and dozens of other activities for all.
Date: Saturday & Sunday, March 7-8 | Location: Ohio Expo Center, Bricker Building | Admission: Included free with EXPO ticket (see above for pricing)
Party With The Pros:
This annual late-night bash serves as the official after-party of The Arnold. Held at the stylish Express Live! venue downtown, the 21+ event gives attendees the unique opportunity to mix and mingle with fitness’ most elite while enjoying drinks, refreshments, music and dancing, and a night full of entertainment.
Date: Saturday, March 7 | Time: 8:30 p.m.-2 a.m. | Location: Express LIVE! | Admission: $25
Arnold Sunday Showcase:
If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot Arnold himself strolling through the convention center during the festival, but you can also catch him during the Sunday Showcase on the event’s final evening. This open forum and Q&A will give audience members the chance to hear Schwarzenegger and other bodybuilding stars speak, and even ask questions of their own.
Date: Sunday, March 8 | Time: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. | Location: Greater Columbus Convention Center, Battelle Grand Ballroom | Admission: $25
For more info on the Arnold Sports Festival, full schedules of events and ticket sales, visit arnoldsportsfestival.com.