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Blow up float at Artsplosure

Artsplosure – The Raleigh Arts Festival

Since its inception in 1980, the Raleigh Arts Festival has entertained and inspired hundreds of thousands of people, introducing them to underrepresented artists and performances. Every aspect of the festival is curated with an eye toward presenting quality art – and a healthy dose of the unexpected. The festival balances critically acclaimed national artists with some of North Carolina’s best performing and visual artists. The result is an eccentric mix of artistic expression, undoubtedly with something that appeals to everyone. Artsplosure is proud to present:

  • The Art Market with more than 170 visual arts and crafts exhibitors from across North Carolina and the nation
  • Kidsplosure, showcasing multiple interactive educational activities and entertainment for children and their parents
  • Specially-commissioned, large-scale, interactive visual art installations
  • Aerialists and/or other unique variety performers
  • The Student Art Exhibition, showcasing two- and three-dimensional artwork of Wake County public and private middle and high school students
  • Ongoing performances by legends and rising stars from the national and regional Jazz, Blues, and Alternative music scenes, the majority of whom have never appeared in Raleigh, and emerging local and regional performers deserving of wider acclaim

This family-friendly arts festival has been described by The News & Observer as “how the Triangle celebrates Spring.” Metro Magazine has recognized Artsplosure on numerous occasions as the “Triangle to the Coast’s Best Cultural Event,” and Artsplosure was singled out for its high quality and popularity in the New York Times’ “Escapes” section in April 2007. In 2018 Artsplsoure was named one of the Top 50 Fine Art and Design shows in America by Sunshine Artist.


First Night Raleigh Acorn being dropped at midnight

WRAL First Night® Raleigh

WRAL First Night® Raleigh is the city’s go-to destination on December 31, a popular tradition for thousands of residents. The day’s festivities fill venues from museum lobbies to church sanctuaries to street corners across more than 20 blocks of downtown Raleigh on New Year’s Eve, offering entertainment for all ages.

Festivities begin with the early afternoon Children’s Celebration on Bicentennial Plaza and at the NC Museums of History and Natural Sciences. The Evening Celebration comes alive with performances in 30+ downtown Raleigh locations, featuring interactive art installations, drama, magic, music, comedy and dance. The night is capped off with music on the outdoor Main Stage, the famous “Raleigh Acorn” (designed by David Benson) drop, and a spectacular fireworks show.


Band performing at Live and Local

Live & Local Hillsborough Street


Live & Local Spring Fest is presented by Artsplosure in partnership with Live It Up! Hillsborough Street. This spring celebration is your chance to join your community in celebrating the unique art, music, food and beer of North Carolina. Come out to Hillsborough Street for an afternoon of performances on the Main Stage, a Kid’s Zone with performances and craft activities for the youngest members of our community, as well as a food truck rodeo and craft beers from our friends at Raleigh Brewing.


Other Events

Over the years, Artsplosure has presented several additional festivals beyond its signature events, including:

  • Capital Holiday Arts Celebration, 2007
  • Puppet Fusion, 2008
  • Art on the Edge, 2008
  • Art Raleigh, 2008
  • African American Cultural Festival, 2010-2012

We provided programming support for other downtown Raleigh events, including:

  • Raleigh Wide Open (arts and crafts market), 2009-2010
  • Wide Open Bluegrass, held in conjunction with the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Convention (arts and crafts market), 2013-2019
  • Destination Dix Festival, 2016
  • Dreamville Festival, 2019
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