Artsplosure will fill downtown Raleigh with arts, crafts and some really big musical bicycles

Squonk Opera's presents Cycle Sonic, a multi-media performance with sculptural puppetry, music, and kinetic, human-powered movement at Artsplosure in downtown Raleigh.John Altdorfer

With multi-media performances, music and more than 180 art vendors on Fayetteville Street, Artsplosure is going to take over downtown this weekend.

With the mission of art for all, Artsplosure is a Raleigh non-profit that is set to stage its 39th annual arts festival — one that’s become an annual spring tradition.

“We spend half a year curating and programming this festival with the idea in mind that our entire community is going to come out and enjoy this incredible display,” said Cameron Laws, the marketing director for Artsplosure.

This year’s two-day festival is May 19 and 20 and will be exclusively on Fayetteville Street. In the past, the festival has surrounded or spilled over to Moore Square a few blocks away, which is now undergoing a transformation.

Here’s a look at this year’s highlights. Did we mention everything is free? (Except what you take home, that is.)

1. The art

Downtown’s main thoroughfare will be packed with the Art Market — artisan booths, including ceramics, fiber art, glass, jewelry, metal, painting, photography and wood. These makers and crafts people were selected by jurors from hundreds of applications, Law said.

Awards, and a total of $3,500 in prize money, will be given out to art judged best in show, Law said.

The details: The art market opens at 11 a.m. Saturday and follows the festival hours below. On Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., the Art Market will be open just for patrons with accessibility needs.

2. The entertainment

The main stage will be at the north end of Fayetteville Street, near the Capitol. Music starts Saturday at noon with sets from ETSU Old Time Ramblers, Christie Lenée, David Myles, Ranky Tanky and The Last Bandoleros.

Launch Ministries Experience continues the music Sunday at 12:30 p.m. Afternoon shows include performances by Onyx Club Boys and John Papa Gros Band. Then, at 4:45 p.m. the the reggae band the Wailers will take the stage.

Look for Squonk Opera’s performances of Cycle Sonic, a multi-media performance with sculptural puppetry, music, and kinetic, human-powered movement. The full performance of Cycle Sonic is at City Plaza (the south end of Fayetteville Street) Saturday a 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and Sunday, May 20, at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

There will be roaming performers and pop-up art experiences from the Poetry Fox, Theatre Raleigh and other dance and performance groups.

3. Kidsplosure

When Artsplosure says “Art for all,” it means there is a big place for young children as well. Kidsplosure is in a new location this year on East Martin Street, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday. There will be a dozen craft activities, Law said, to “really activate creativity in our younger attendees.”

Look for rock painting, an envelope exchange (to leave a message for someone else), and a fossil dig.

There will be performances by Enloe Jazz Band, Progressive Music Center, Mary Kate Ayers, Read With Me, Southeast Raleigh Jazz Band, Teenfest Winners, North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, and other young talent.

The details: Performances are 11 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

4. The details

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., May 19; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 20

Public transportation: Raleigh buses will take passengers to the Moore Square Transit Station, a block away. Or jump on the R-Line circulator, the free bus that loops around downtown.

Info: or download the Artsplosure app.

More this weekend


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