From its inception in 1999, the Festival has grown in stature and popularity, attracting visitors and participants from other parts of the country, and the world. The Festival is organised by the Kala Ghoda Association (a non-profit organisation that states its objectives as "physically upgrading the Kala Ghoda sub-precinct and making it the Art District of Mumbai") and curated by teams handling each of the sub-festivals.
The sub-festivals feature the visual arts, dance, music, theatre, cinema, literature, lectures, seminars and workshops, heritage walks, special events for children, and a vibrant street festival. Entry to all events is free to all (only restricted by the size of the venues) and costs are met through corporate sponsorship. Venues include The Jehangir Art Gallery , The National Gallery of Modern Art , the David Sassoon Library , Max Mueller Bhavan, Elphinstone College , the K. R. Cama Institute, the M C Ghia Hall, and the street area of Rampart Row. Rampart Row is closed off to vehicular traffic for the duration of the festival, with the entire area becoming a street mela, with food stalls, artisans selling their creations, artists who sketch instant portraits, street art installations and the like. In recent years, the Festival has expanded beyond the Kala Ghoda crescent, with events being held in Azad Maidan and Horniman Circle as well.
The success of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival has, arguably, encouraged the setting up of several other arts and cultural festivals at that time of the year, when the weather in Mumbai is cool and the sun sets early. These include the Mumbai Festival, the Celebrate Bandra Festival, and in 2007, the Kitab Festival.
However in recent times, local residents have gathered up in arms to complain about the noise, and left over mess that is left at the end of the festival. If some reports are to be believed, the festival is slated to be moved to nearby Horniman circle. However, this change of venue has not been confirmed by the organizers.