Everything You Need to Know About Kingston’s O+ Festival

Kingston’s annual O+ Festival attracts thousands to the city for a weekend of performances and art—and returns the love with health check-ups for the participants.

Setting the Stage

What do you get when you put a group of artists, activists, and doctors in a room together? An idea to swap culture for healthcare—which is how O+ (read: O Positive) was created. The festival, occurring yearly in Kingston since 2010, hosts a variety of musicians, comedians, writers doing readings across the city, and artists creating fabulous murals on building façades.

“Our mission is to exchange the art of medicine for the medicine of art,” says festival organizer Lara Hope. O+ recognizes that the arts improve life in a community, and that the community can repay their creatives with access to health screenings—something that self-employed artists tend to lack.

Festival participants can take advantage of pop-up health and wellness clinics throughout the weekend—everything from teeth cleanings to physical therapy sessions to cancer screenings. New this year: A year-round clinic (Exchange Wellness, PLLC, at 36 James Street) opened in August to ensure festival alums have ongoing access to a primary care provider.

O+ Festival
Photo courtesy of O+ Festival

“Our mission is to exchange the art of medicine for the medicine of art.”

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Behind the Scenes

In addition to the group’s board members and organizers, O+ enlists volunteers to ensure the event runs smoothly (in 2022, 112 people lent a hand). Last year, 75 percent of the 158 performing and visual artists were from the Hudson Valley. Seven new murals were added around town, shows occurred across six stages, 120 health providers offered services, and more than 4,000 attendees enjoyed the event.

What’s in Store

This year’s O+ Festival takes place October 6–8. You’ll be able to catch shows from alternative country singer Amythyst Kiah, actor and comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, indie group Constant Smiles, and many more to be announced. Stages are set up at various locations around the city such as Keegan Ales, Rough Draft Bar & Books, and the Old Dutch Church (which is also where the health clinics are hosted). Weekend passes are available online and during the festival; a donation of $75 is suggested, but sliding-scale options are available. Visit opositivefestival.org to donate, volunteer, and for more information.

Related: These Artists Are Shaping the Hudson Valley’s Music Scene

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