As far as major annual events go, Maha Festival is one of the biggest held in Omaha. It’s more than a music festival – it’s all about the local community with a ton of free activities for all ages included with admission, great food and drinks, and a marketplace of local boutiques and small businesses. And the best part for Omaha families? Kids under 10 get in free. So, read on for why you’ll want to take the kids to the 14th annual Maha Festival this Friday and Saturday at Aksarben Village in Omaha.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Maha Festival. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
When is the Maha Festival?
It’s July 29 and 30, 2022. Gates open on Friday night at 5 p.m., with the first performance starting at 5:30 p.m. and running until 11 p.m. Gates open on Saturday at 1 p.m., with the first performance at 1:30 p.m. and running until midnight.
Obviously, you don’t have to stay the entire time, especially if you have kids in tow.
The nonprofit, volunteer-powered festival, presented by Medical Solutions, will welcome the dream-pop duo Beach House to headline Saturday. Hip-hop/rap artist Princess Nokia will perform Saturday, and indie rock mainstays Car Seat Headrest are the Friday night headliners. The full schedule is available at mahafestival.com.
Maha Festival Q&A for parents
This Friday will be my first time going to Maha Festival, and I’m bringing one of my kids along. We’re familiar with Aksarben Village, but taking a kid to a music festival is a first for me. So, to get a better idea of what to expect, I asked Rachel Grace, Executive Director, Communications & Strategy, a few questions:
Q. The Community Village sounds fun for families with a lot of hands-on activities. Which activities do you think will be the most popular?
A. We’re thrilled to welcome back many fellow nonprofit organizations along with several exciting newcomers. The theme tying all of these activities together revolves around mental health awareness and the importance of self care, and caring for others.
Community Alliance will host an oversized Jenga game that’s always really popular, and you can channel your self-expression to build a unique beaded bracelet while you’re there. Omaha Public Library is bringing back their personalized reading suggestions, typed up on a cool vintage typewriter. And, the new Kiewit Luminarium that’s opening along the RiverFront in 2023 will host amazing interactive “exhiblets” to preview what this attraction will be like — definitely a must-see.
Q. What’s the Silent Disco and is that something families should check out?
A. At the silent disco, you dance to music played via wireless headphones. There are several DJs playing at once, and you choose the channel you like the most. The fun happens when you’re grooving to something completely different from the person next to you tuned into a different DJ channel, and of course, passersby without headphones on can’t hear a thing.
This is a popular destination for families with children over age 6 or so, particularly during the day at Maha. NFM does such a great job decorating the space. It’s easy and free to reserve the headphones, and you can even register for them in advance at nfm.com/maha.
Q. If kids need to cool off, where do you recommend families go during the festival?
A. The Cox Recharge Lounge will be a relaxing place with lots of shade to hang out and re-charge your phone — and yourselves! The Millwork Arts Lounge is air-conditioned and will host performances by the Nebraska Writers Collective Youth Poets from 5-6 p.m. on Saturday. You can find cooling towels at the Methodist First Aid Tent, and within the NFM Silent Disco area. Metropolitan Community College is hosting a Chill Tent with a mister fan, too.
Q. Are there family bathrooms available? What about changing tables?
A. Methodist Urgent Care has family rooms accessible through the First Aid Tent.
Q. There are a lot of great food vendors this year! What are you looking forward to the most?
A. Best Burger is a big favorite, with their locally sourced, affordable ingredients. Personally, I can’t wait to have Via Farina’s new mobile pizza oven on-site!
Q. Are there any cold items or sweets this year that kids will like?
A. Our special guests Kona Ice will be serving shaved ice just outside the festival gates. Inside the VIP Area, Brownie Bar will be there on Friday and New Orleans Sneaux on Saturday with their amazing fruity “snowballs.”
Q. I see there will be FNBO water stations. Can families bring water bottles to refill for free?
A. Yes! You’re encouraged to bring in a water bottle — either empty or factory sealed — to refill for free all day to stay hydrated.
Q. What would you recommend parents bring to the festival to make it the best experience for their kids?
A. We definitely recommend your favorite lawn or camping chair — just be sure to keep it out of the Chair-Free Zone closest to the stage. A nice big blanket also works well. A tote bag to hold any purchases or swag collected throughout the day is helpful. Ear protection is a good idea, especially for small children. And of course, sunscreen!
Above all, bring along an adventurous mood and be ready to discover something new about your city.
Q. Any parking tips for parents? If people aren’t familiar with Aksarben Village, what should they know about it and getting to the festival?
Aksarben Village has four free parking lots, so you’re never too far from finding a good spot! The lot towards the southeast of the area tends to be the closest walking distance to the front gates. Since there are a few road closures in place during the event, be prepared to spend just a few extra minutes navigating the area. But everything is very walkable and easy to get to — and easy to leave once you’re ready. The parking map is online at MahaFestival.com/maps.
Q. Any other tips for families going to Maha Festival?
A. This can be an excellent chance for creating big memories, like a first concert. The Union Pacific Stage will have a must-see performance by Omaha Girls Rock on Saturday at 3:35 p.m. These are pre-teens and teens who have been rehearsing for weeks as part of summer camp; it can be really inspiring and fun for other kids to see their peers up on the big stage.
There are a lot of things to take in and experience (and take cute photos of!), but there are also relatively peaceful areas of the park to unwind in. Re-entry to the festival is permitted all day; just be sure to keep your original tickets on hand scan in and out. Kids 10 and under do not need a ticket.
Pro tip: Definitely take a ride on the Werner Wheel — during Maha, it’s the best view in the city!
Things to do at Maha Festival’s Community Village
Besides watching awesome performances, I’m looking forward to exploring the Community Village. Here’s the complete list of participating organizations and their activities that I think you and your kids will like:
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Nebraska Chapter. Hearts, ribbons, flowers, decorative rocks: Choose your “canvas” to write inspirational, self-affirming messages, and then take your art home or choose to have it displayed inside the booth for all to see.
- Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Bemis Center will curate a selection of interesting sounds for you to interpret what you see when you hear them. Make a sketch or collage from art materials like markers, colored pencils, images, and fabric swatches.
- Community Alliance. Create beaded bracelets and Include hopeful, inspiring messages and/or dream up a simply beautiful piece unique to your own creativity. Also look for the giant Jenga game, a longtime favorite.
- Conservation Nebraska. Create super cool native pollinator seed bombs. Also the spot to charge your phones.
- Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands. Leave your own creative mark on this on-site mural, and “spread the word inclusion” by signing a pledge with your own examples of what you would include.
- Habitat For Humanity of Omaha. Design a colorful postcard that demonstrates the connection between stable housing and mental well-being. Then write your message on it, and your pre-addressed postcard will be delivered to a policymaker at the state or local level.
- Joslyn Art Museum. Create a collaborative community weaving using a wide variety of fabric and other nontraditional weaving materials to contribute to a large-scale collaborative art project.
- Kiewit Luminarium. Preview of some of the Luminarium’s memorable, interactive “exhiblets” at Maha, including the mirror installation “You, Me, and We,” and more.
- League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha. Are you smarter than a politician? Step up to a special wheel of questions, take a spin, and give your answer to see how you stack up. Plus, take home a tote bag giveaway.
- Nebraska Appleseed. Spin the “Wheel of Fortunate Resources in Nebraska,” a game about important topics like the Tenant Assistance Project and the Nebraska Immigration Legal Assistance Hotline. Take home a cool prize for participating.
- Omaha By Design. “We Belong” is a giant interactive map of the Omaha metro area. Push a pin where you live or work to highlight and celebrate the diverse backgrounds for all of us who call this our home.
- Omaha Conservatory of Music/String Sprouts Program. Experience an instrument petting zoo, the floor piano, games, and drawings.
- Omaha Public Library. Get free personalized reading suggestions — typed up on a vintage typewriter — along with cool library swag.
- Planned Parenthood North Central States. Help create reproductive healthcare art. Let your creativity flow when you fill out individual cards that will be transferred to an art piece that will be displayed at a Planned Parenthood health center later.
- Rise. Design your own empathy bracelet with beads that are color-coded to represent feelings and life experiences
- Siena Francis House. Make mental health stress balls for people without homes.
- The Kim Foundation. Create your own “Calm Kit,” adding calming items to your individual sack, including stress balls, Play Dough, bubbles, tea, and mints.
- UNETECH Institute. Map your entrepreneurship story! Using colored string and columns of pegs — with each peg representing a particular option or step — loop around each step you’ve taken in life.
Getting tickets to Maha Festival
Maha Festival 2022 is July 29 and 30 at Aksarben Village, 67th and Center streets, Omaha. Parking is free at Aksarben Village.
- Two-day GA – $85 advance
- Friday GA – $35 advance
- Saturday GA – $65 advance
- Two-day VIP – $230 advance
- Friday VIP – $90 advance
- Saturday VIP – $165 advance
- Kids 10 and under: Free with a ticketed adult
- Purchase tickets online at mahafestival.com