Artsplosure will take over downtown Raleigh this weekend with arts and crafts, live entertainment, activities for kids and, this year, a garden of sculptures.
The 33rd annual free festival is a popular one in Raleigh, drawing up to 80,000 people over two days on the third weekend of May.
While some kids may not enjoy exploring the art market, you'll also find Kidsplosure - live entertainment and arts and crafts just for them. Much of the market surrounds Moore Square, home to Kidsplosure, so it would be easy for one parent to shop while the other supervises the kids on Moore Square.
Terri Dollar, Artsplosure's program director, said festival organizers aim to offer crafts that kids can wear so you don't have to hold a wet painting, for instance, all day (which I definitely appreciate!). This year, kids can make their own wings and create paper flowers and crowns.
Also on Moore Square, the Kidsplosure stage will feature cast members from North Carolina Theatre's "Oliver," Paul Miller's Flow Circus, marionettes from Tanglewood Puppets and more. Click here for the full schedule.
And new this year is the Impressionist Garden with eight life-size, painted bronze sculptures of famous paintings, which kids can touch and climb on. In fact, Dollar tells me that she told the landscaping companies, who have partnered to landscape the exhibit, to make sure that people could walk up to the sculptures to get closer looks.
The sculptures, by artist Seward Johnson, will be displayed on downtown Raleigh's City Plaza. Each draws inspiration from Impressionist paintings of Renoir, Manet, Monet or Caillebotte.
The garden takes the place of the giant luminariums, the inflatable structures that Artsplosure has brought in for the past few years. I'll miss walking through one of those this year, but I'm excited to see the garden. I think it's a great opportunity for kids to learn about artists and their work.
On Saturday and Sunday, there will be educational tours of the garden. There also will be QR codes on each of the pieces for people to scan with their smart phone and learn more about the works.
Best of all, unlike the luminariums, there is no charge to see the Impressionist Garden.
"Kids will not forget this," Dollar tells me.
Artsplosure is Saturday and Sunday, but the Impressionist Garden also is open on Friday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. After this weekend, the sculptures will be distributed to spots around Raleigh, including Marbles Kids Museum, Raleigh City Museum and the N.C. Museum of History, for the next few months.
The art market hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday. If you want to beat the crowd and push your kids in a stroller through the market, Dollar highly recommends visiting at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Across from Moore Square, Marbles will have some special activities from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, including monster truck painting and a giant paint pendulum. The activities are free with admission, which is $5 per person. Marbles would definitely be a great place to cool down if this weekend turns out to be warm.
Check Artsplosure's website for many more details about the weekend.