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A look inside Amococo, the giant inflatable structure in downtown Raleigh

The 10,000-square-foot structure opened Thursday and is here for this weekend's Artsplosure.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
I got an early look today at Amococo, the 10,000-square-foot luminarium that has filled up City  Plaza on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. It's here for Artsplosure, the major arts and crafts festival this weekend.

The air-supported translucent vinyl structure looks like a giant bounce house. And that's exactly what a lot of people think it is at first. But it should be noted that bouncing, running and sliding down the sloped walls aren't allowed here.

Instead, you walk through the labyrinthine tunnels, which open up into spacious domes, while listening to new-agey music. Natural light, tinted by the different colors of the vinyl, brings a kind of glow to the interior.

I've described it as womb-like. I find it very relaxing. I brought my toddler, along with a friend and her two-year-old. By the end of our visit, both of the kids were rolling around on the ground, kind of like they were in their cribs trying to get to sleep.

This is the third luminarium in Raleigh and the biggest so far. It's a third larger than Mirazozo, which was here for Artsplosure last year. The pieces are created by the Nottingham, England-based Architects of Air, which has designed and constructed 15 luminaria which have toured the globe.

Amococo opened Thursday afternoon. It's on City Plaza on the 400 block of Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. Hours are 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $5 per person. Kids 3 and under are admitted free. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult, with a minimum of one adult per four children. The mom of some teens last year told me that they had a fantastic time touring last year's Mirazozo. I think it's fun for all ages.

Click here for more details on visiting Amococo.

No shoes or strollers inside. I parked my stroller outside. Tickets are available at the luminarium only. And on Saturday and Sunday, you can buy a timed entry ticket so you don't have to wait in line. Terri Dollar with Artsplosure tells me that today and Friday are the best days to go if you want to avoid a crowd.

For a look at what it's like inside, check out the video. And if you plan to go to Artsplosure, check my earlier post for more tips.

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