They say 7 is a lucky number, and with the looks of this year’s NEON Festival, it seems to hold. The seventh annual NEON Festival kicks off October 20th & 21st, and the lineup looks luckier than a truckload of horseshoes and rabbit’s feet.
The festival organizers have received a record number of participant applications this year. The driver behind the excitement is hard to miss when looking at the loaded lineup of programming.
Over two days, NEON Festival is hosting the unveiling of three brand-new murals, more than 50 individual artists at pop-up galleries, live glass blowing, and dance parties. Pair those with an expansive beer garden, a palette-full pop-up dinner party that would give Pantone a run for their money, and more.
Festival goers should expect almost every nook and cranny of the NEON District to pour out color, collaboration, and creativity. Thursday night festivities focus on the Chrysler Museum end of the District with late-night museum hours, live glass-blowing, two dance shows, glow yoga, “The Human Library,” and multiple musical acts.
The Rythm Project, Trio Atomic, Scotch and Rye, Danny Jams, and Kayce Laine fill out the musical lineup in and around the Chrysler. Brittney Harris’s “Pedigree,” a short film about personal acceptance and recovery from the inexplicit influences of racial hatred and violence, will be shown every 20-30 minutes in the Kaufman Theater. Meanwhile, “The Human Library” will take over Memorial Garden and allow visitors to “check out” a local person with an incredible story to tell. Visitors from previous years have called this “one of the most heart-opening experiences” of the festival.
Friday night, the energy shifts over to the Granby Street corridor. The Plot is the nexus for the night with the main stage, beer garden, and launch point for mural tours. 757 Makerspace and the Tidewater Burners are programming the nearby Cofer Lot. They kick off with the “Dîner en Coleur” bring-your-own-food picnic, where attendees are encouraged to go all-in on their color of choice, which will surely be a visual spectacle. The dinner happens alongside a gallery of discovery-themed installation exhibitions and culminates in a dance party with Mosquito Cabaret, DJ Elijah3WO, and Sunnyside Collective.
Of the three new murals to be unveiled, the star of the night will surely be the Gourmandizing project by London-based Matthew McGuiness and the Governor’s School for the Arts. The mural will document the history of lunchtime in Norfolk and accompany a full Gourmandizing exhibition and the Governor’s School jazz band inside Commune.
Art galleries will pop up in the Copeland Center, the Neon House, and Zeke’s, but d’Art Center is opening a comprehensive exhibition on Friday. The Dynamic Exhibition is a steep competition that features 66 works from 49 artists across 19 states. A jury will announce the winners.
Live music will accompany each pop-up gallery or artistic performance, with an expected lineup of nearly two dozen acts. Standouts include the Hurrah Players, Tony Rivera flamenco guitar, Bryson Jett, TA Gatling and the Guns, Kelo and the Sounds of Noir, Captive Birds, and the TCC Blue Moon Jazz Ensemble.
Festival goers should expect almost every nook and cranny of the NEON District to pour out color, collaboration, and creativity. Celebrate with the arts community this coming Friday and Saturday.
Paul Stetson Rice
Paul is the creator of NFKVA.com. He was born and raised in Norfolk, graduated from Virginia Tech, and narrowly avoided law school. Chat with him about economics, entrepreneurship, hip-hop, and hiking. When he's not working on five different projects, you'll catch him sharing a beer with friends at a local brewery.