Arnold Sports Festival: What to know and what's new this year

·3 min read
Arnold Schwarzenegger presents the first place trophy to Brandon Curry for the Pro Bodybuilding Arnold Classic during the Arnold Classic Finals at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, March 5, 2022.
Arnold Schwarzenegger presents the first place trophy to Brandon Curry for the Pro Bodybuilding Arnold Classic during the Arnold Classic Finals at the Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

The Arnold Sports Festival is one of the largest multi-sport events in the world, bringing together over 10,000 athletes more than 100,000 visitors from more than 80 countries to the city of Columbus.

The festival is named after its co-founder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the legendary bodybuilder turned Hollywood star turned politician.

The Arnold Sports Festival offers an action-packed weekend of events, including weightlifting, bodybuilding, strongman competitions, martial arts and gymnastics, plus over 1,000 exhibitors showcasing the latest in sports and fitness trends. You may also get to see Schwarzenegger himself, who is a regular presence at the festival.

Here's what you need to know about the Arnold Sports Festival:

When and where is the Arnold Sports Festival held in Columbus?

The 2023 Arnold Sports Festival will be held March 2 through 5, 2023. Most of the events are at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, but there are also events at the Ohio Expo Center, Hollywood Casino and Kemba Live this year.

When did 'The Arnold' start?

Columbus hosted the first Arnold Classic back in 1989 as a bodybuilding competition.

In a 2019 article in The Dispatch, Schwarzenegger detailed how the event ended up in Columbus. In 1970, former Worthington Mayor Jim Lorimer invited Schwarzenegger to Columbus to compete in the Mr. World competition. After the competition, Schwarzenegger and Lorimer agreed to put on bodybuilding shows in Columbus starting in 1976, initially including such events as the Mr. Olympia competition. Those events became the Arnold Classic and, later, the annual Arnold Sports Festival.

The festival will celebrate 35 years this year, which also marks the first without its co-founder Mayor Lorimer, who passed late last year at age 96.

Photos:The Arnold through the years, from bodybuilding to speedcubing

What is the Arnold Classic?

The Arnold Classic was the original event and one of bodybuilding's most prestigious competitions.

The inaugural Arnold Classic had only two events—professional men's bodybuilding, known as the Arnold Classic, and professional women's bodybuilding, called Ms. International. The events featured 30 competitors in total.

In 2023, the Classic will be headlined by two-time champion William "The Conqueror" Bonac, 2021 Arnold Classic champion Nick "The Mutant" Walker and two-time Mr. Olympia Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay.

Arnold's Strongman Classic will feature two brothers from Scotland who are contending for the title of World's Strongest Mann: 2022's World's Strongest Man, Tom Stoltman, and his brother, Luke.

Arnold's Strongwoman Classic will feature 10 of the world's strongest women, including Ukraine's Olga Liashchuk, who was 2022's World's Strongest Woman, and USA's Victoria Long, last year's Arnold Pro Strongwoman Champion.

The Arnold Classic is just one of the events at the Arnold Sports Festival, however. The festival will feature over 60 sports and events in 2023, with an estimated 12,000 athletes competing from over 80 countries.

What is the Arnold Expo?

More than 1,000 vendor booths representing 300 companies will be at the 2023 expo, including vendors for sports equipment, apparel and nutrition, and two stages hosting variety strength competitions, exhibitions and entertainment, including arm wrestling, power lifting and a fashion show.

More than 100,000 visitors are expected to attend the festival from all 50 states and over 80 countries, who are estimated to spend $15.6 million.

What's new at the festival this year?

The latest addition to the Arnold Sports Festival is World Chase Tag, an international championship for competitive parkour athletes and Ninja Warrior competitors in the game of tag. The Arnold will be hosting the WCT6 Pan American Championship for the Americas, which will be recorded and later aired on ESPN in April.

Last year, events such as medieval fighting and the controversial slap fighting championships debuted at the festival, though only the former event will make a return in 2023.


This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: What to know about the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus this weekend