WALTER’s Guide to Artsplosure 2023

Whether you’re looking for a girls night out or a cultured day with family, Artsplosure offers something for everyone.
by Addie Ladner

It’s almost time for Artsplosure, Raleigh’s longest-running art festival! This daytime celebration includes live music, experiential art, and tons of food and drink along Fayetteville Street. This year, more than 150 juried creators will be showcasing their unique metal works, paintings, photography, pottery and jewelry at the Art Market. Little art enthusiasts will enjoy the Kidsplosure component of the event, with free hands-on activities. The Sunday headliner will be The Black Opry Revue, a showcase of country music featuring Black artists across blues, folk and Americana genres. 

Of course, you could spend your entire weekend at Artsplosure soaking up all the fun and creativity. But if you’re only planning to go for a few hours, consider this guide for making the most of this very creative weekend downtown. 

If you’re heading in with little kids…

With children, the best time to head to Artsplosure is in the morning, before the crowds and heat set in. General admission starts at 11 a.m., so first head to Kidsplosure on Hargett Street (between Salsbury and Fayetteville) for musical performances, a magic show and tons of crafts including paper marbling, foam soap prints and weaving. Then grab food truck fare for lunch at the Food Court on Martin Street (between Wilmington and Fayetteville) or regroup for lunch indoors if the kids need a breather (Beasley’s, Capitol Club and Raleigh Times are all nearby and family-friendly). After that, find a shady spot to relax and listen to music with a cold beverage in hand — there’s always room in front of the stage for kids to dance. On the Main Stage (on Fayetteville Street at the Capitol intersection) local songwriter and musical therapist Kyshona Armstrong plays at 2:00 p.m.

For an afternoon visit with friends…

Head straight to the Song Confessional (at the intersection of Davie and Fayetteville Street), where you step into a retro-looking trailer in privacy to divulge a story or secret you’ve been holding in. It will be recorded anonymously and could one day be turned into a radio hit. Then grab a snack or beverage from the Food Court on Martin Street (between Wilmington and Fayetteville) to enjoy as you  take your time browsing the Art Market on Fayetteville Street — with more than 150 makers selling original works of pottery, photography and art, you’re bound to find a next treasure to decorate your home. Then take a break to listen to North Carolina indie pop band Victoria Victoria at 3:30 p.m. on the Main Stage.

Make a night of it with a group…

Grab an early dinner and drinks somewhere close to (consider Young Hearts Distillery, Centro or the newly-reopened Fox Liquor Bar). Then find the secret entrance to the Secret Silent Disco (for first-timers: the music’s piped in through headphones, so from the outside it looks like everyone’s dancing in silence).. Then check out the You Matter installation in Moore Square. It encourages self-reflection for mental health awareness by asking that you write words of affirmation onto a mirror showing your reflection. After that, catch jazz quintet Butcher Brown at 5 p.m. or country rock musician Ryland Baxter at 6:30 p.m. Then hit the Afterparty at Kings (14 W. Martin Street, $15 for admission, doors open at 6:30, music starts at 7:30 p.m.) for cocktails and more live music from West African group Baba Commandant and the Mandingo Band.

Make a Sunday Funday out of it…

Sundays are often reserved for rest, hearty breakfast and leisure activities — and you can get that all at Artsplosure! Sleep in, then get yourself brunch fare at the Food Court on Martin Street (between Wilmington and Fayetteville) then chill out as you listen to Tre. Charles at 11:00 a.m. or Chessa Rich at 1:30 p.m. When you’re reading, start a friendly round of pickleball: four art-covered pickleball courts will be set up at One City Plaza, where you can rent paddles and balls or bring your own to play. After getting your workout in, take a spin through the Art Market, then settle in for for Black Opry Revue feat. Justin Reid on the Main Stage at 5:00 p.m.

Artsplosure hours: Saturday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.| Click here for a map and schedule

This article was originally published on May 18, 2022