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Festival Highlights



Squonk Opera's GO Roadshow!

City Plaza, 400 Block of Fayetteville Street


A carnivalesque, 45-minute cavalcade of spinning instruments, funny hats and cheerful rhythmic and melodic bombast — plus a blimp with a face and working jaw — Squonk Opera's GO Roadshow is a music and art mobile production that will delight audiences of all ages. This show-making machine is a 34-foot long monster truck retrofitted with truck-horn calliope, a wall made of rotors and a spinning grand piano that is played while it wheels around! Each show starts with a shameless parade of peacock trumpets, spinning drums, accordion, sousaphone and glockenspiel.


In addition to the performances listed below, interactive talk-backs with the artists and hands-on opportunities for aspiring performers young and old will take place throughout the weekend on City Plaza!


Performances of GO Roadshow will occur at the following times, with artist talk-back opportunities following each performance:


Friday, May 17:  1:00, 4:00 & 7:00


Saturday, May 18:  11:00, 1:00, 3:00 & 5:00


Sunday, May 19:  12:00, 2:00 & 4:00


Hailing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Squonk Opera created its first show in a Pittsburgh junkyard, with choreographed cranes and roaring earthmovers and screaming machine shears. Composer Jackie Dempsey and artist Steve O’Hearn work with an ensemble of 10-20 artists to create post-industrial performances with original music, design, and staging, outside the rules of mass culture, fashion or academia.  Squonk Opera strives to develop work that attacks and celebrates the idiosyncrasies of our world. Squonk has played on 3 continents and in over 25 states, and strives to create work that is accessible and transformative.


The Raleigh Street Piano Project


Live impromptu music will fill the air across downtown Raleigh.  Six pianos that were destined for the landfill have been beautifully decorated by local nonprofits and groups benefitting individuals with disabilities and various other challenges. Placed in locations across downtown Raleigh, YOU are invited to play, or enjoy the music played by others. Spontaneous mini-concerts are encouraged!  We also invite you to take photos and video of your "performance" and share them on our Facebook page --


Pianos will be placed in the following locations beginning May 15: 

  • City Plaza on Fayetteville Street
  • Moore Square
  • Wolfe Street in City Market
  • Marbles Kids Museum Courtyard
  • Lichtin Plaza at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
  • The Raleigh Municipal Building on Hargett Street

Artsplosure Student Art Exhibition

Zanzibar Room, Marbles Kids Museum

Saturday, 11:00am - 5:00pm

Sunday, 12:00pm - 5:00pm



The Artsplosure Student Art Exhibition is a juried visual art competition, allowing students enrolled in Wake County public and private middle schools and high schools to show off their artistic talent while competing for a total of $500 in cash prizes.  Over 120 pieces of art, selected from over 300 student entries from two dozen Wake County schools, will be exhibited at Artsplosure.


Please note:  The Student Art Exhibition and activities in the Main Courtyard are free and open to the public.  Regular admission applies to the Museum and IMAX Theatre.


Close Up Close

PNC Plaza Lobby, 301 Fayetteville Street

Saturday & Sunday, 12:00pm - 5:00pm

Artist Talk-Back, Saturday at 3:00pm


Fifty larger-than-life self-portraits and 4-foot collaborative collage portraits created by students from Ligon Middle School during a week-long artist-in-residence workshop led by Grammy-winning musician-turned-visual artist Barbara Bailey Hutchison.  Enjoy these young artists' talents in an exhibit, installed in the PNC Plaza lobby throughout the weekend. 


Meet Hutchison for an in depth look at her process of inspiring young people to explore the arts, Saturday at 3:00 in the lobby of the PNC Plaza, at the corner of Fayetteville and Martin Streets.


Mini Mozarts

Marbles Kids Museum, Main Courtyard

Saturday & Sunday, 12:00pm - 5:00pm


Take a turn playing on one of our toy pianos and keyboards set up throughout the Courtyard. Musical fun for the youngest among us — or just the young at heart!


Please note:  The Student Art Exhibition and activities in the Main Courtyard are free and open to the public.  Regular admission applies to the Museum and IMAX Theatre.


Sandy Feat


Watch Ed Moore and his team turn tons of sand into a work of art.  He has taught sand sculpture classes at the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores; won numerous sand sculpture contests at Virginia Beach, Atlantic Beach, Wrightsville Beach and Atlanta; participated in the World Championships in British Columbia; and sculpted with master sand sculptors from Florida to California.  Ed has been a sculptor most of his life. Working in clay, wood and metal, he developed a love and talent for three-dimensional art.  Those interests expanded through his youth and turned into a career in architecture.   He is now an owner of Moore + Burton Architects, PA in Raleigh, NC.




Challenge others to a game of life-size chess! Enjoy playing chess in a way that has become synonymous with Artsplosure. For most of the past decade, Artsplosure audiences have enjoyed this oversized version of a classic board game, a creation by Lyle Estill from Moncure, NC.


Members of Chess Achieves will be on hand all weekend.  Been a while since you've played a game of chess?  They'll be happy to lend a hand!  Chess Achieves is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization that advances community and economic development goals, and works to fill the overall need for capitalization of chess organizers, teachers, and events in this sector. They serve as an educational resource; working to teach youth chess, train chess educators, and host competitive chess events.


Triangle Potters Guild

Saturday, 11:00am - 7:00pm

Sunday, 10:00am - 5:00pm


The Triangle Potters Guild is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate the public and arouse interest at all levels of skill in the practice, standards, ethics and appreciation of the ceramic arts.


TPG membership includes professional production potters, studio art potters, serious amateurs, hobbyists, beginners, ceramics educators, sculptors, collectors, and everything in between.


During the Artsplosure weekend, Guild members will provide wheel and sculpting demonstrations as well as a kid’s clay table. Member’s display and sell original clay works in a large tent in City Market.


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