Artsplosure Raleigh Arts Festival features art market, music and events for kids

CorrespondentMay 15, 2014 

For 35 years, Artsplosure’s Raleigh Arts Festival has brought visual art, street performance, interactive installations and music to downtown Raleigh. Help celebrate that anniversary Saturday and Sunday as the event takes over Moore Square and the adjacent City Market area.

This free festival features an art market, several music stages and the Kidsplosure area. We’ve selected a few highlights from the dozens of options Artsplosure offers. For a full schedule of events, visit

•  Art market. Let’s face it: The sheer quantity and variety of art for sale is what sets this Raleigh Arts Festival apart from the many local fests that have cropped up since it began. At the market, you can buy anything from traditional paintings and photography to jewelry, ceramics, experimental works and even ships in bottles. When: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Saturday; 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday. Markets are set up on Blount, Martin, Hargett and Davie Streets.

•  School jazz bands. With the Artsplosure name a portmanteau of art, explosion and exposure, the inclusion of high school and middle school jazz bands promises exposure to the literal up-and-comers of local music. Some of these teenage musicians are quite talented and deserving of this visible stage and the encouragement it represents. When: 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Ligon jazz band; Noon Sunday, Enloe Jazz Assassins; 3:10 p.m. Sunday, Enloe Jazz Ambassadors. All three shows are at the Kidsplosure stage in Moore Square.

•  Student art exhibit. Similarly, art works by high school and middle school students will be displayed both days of the festival in Marbles Kids Museum’s Zanzibar Room. While the museum will be open and charging admission, this exhibit – as part of Artsplosure – is free. When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

•  Mainstage headliners. This Artsplosure sees the welcome return of North Carolina ex-pat Tift Merritt, the celebrated, country-leaning singer/songwriter headlining Saturday night. And Sunday headliner Alejandro Escoveda’s intensely personal, Southwestern-tinted Americana reveals his four decades as a professional musician. His work falls in the same storyteller tradition as Joe Strummer or Bruce Springsteen and is not to be missed. When: Merritt, 8 p.m. Saturday; Escoveda, 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Both shows on the Main stage in Moore Square.

•  The Red Trouser Show. Gravity-defying street acrobats David Graham and Tobin Renwick mix circus and sideshow elements – juggling fire, juggling knives – with more modern, fast-paced feats of balance and strength. These two make it look easy and fun, and their show is as much about comedy as it is about jaw-dropping aerial gymnastics. When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Kidsplosure stage in Moore Square.

•  Sandy feat. Sculptor Ed Moore and his team will create a massive work, requiring tons of sand, which will remain on display in Moore Square through the weekend.

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