SPARKcon brings smorgasbord of arts to downtown Raleigh

ccampbell@newsobserver.comSeptember 8, 2013 

  • SPARKcon highlights

    Scavenger hunt tag: Play a game called The Architect and the Urchin, described as a “celebratory exploration of Raleigh in the form of an urban game combining elements of a scavenger hunt and tag.” Sign up with a team between 5 and 7 p.m. Friday in front of the Wake County Courthouse on Fayetteville Street.

    Groovin’ to the beats: Join a free hip-hop dance class taught by LaTissa ChaNelle at 2 p.m. Saturday in the grand ballroom of the old Sir Walter Hotel, 400 Fayetteville St.

    Laughter in motion: Eleven stand-up comedians will perform aboard the R-Line downtown circulator bus from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Look for the bus with the comedySPARK sign and hop on.

    Swearing up a storm: Help crown Raleigh’s No. 1 curse word by voting in a March Madness-style bracket competition from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the London Bridge Pub, 110 E. Hargett St.

    Madonna and flames: Circus fire dancers perform a tribute to Madonna from 9 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the corner of Fayetteville and Martin streets.

    Live jazz jam: Jazz band Frim Fram Sauce kicks off the final afternoon of the festival at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the musicSPARK east stage outside Morning Times on East Hargett Street.

  • By the numbers

    Here’s what to expect when SPARKcon takes over downtown Raleigh Friday through Sunday:

    • 4 stages of music

    • 6 hours of dance classes

    • 250 street painting squares

    • 28,128 pieces of chalk

    • 50 vendors

    • 55 bands

    • 1 Chinese dragon-style worm

    • 10 fashion designers

    • 420 hours of events

— About 2,000 circus performers, comedians, musicians and other artists will descend on downtown this weekend for the eighth annual SPARKcon festival.

The free arts and culture festival drew 35,000 people last year, but this year it’s sharing the September stage with even bigger events like the World of Bluegrass festival at the end of the month.

“To me, it’s invigorating that all this other stuff is going on,” said SPARKcon executive director Sarah Powers. “Rising tides lift all boats and keep the momentum going. It’s neat to be in the middle. We feel like we started out instigating something bigger, and this is it.

“Shine a light on Raleigh, get people motivated, and who knows what may happen? Eight years later, September in Raleigh looks pretty cool, and we’re proud of that.”

SPARKcon offers several events Thursday, then a full slate from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at 20 venues on and around Fayetteville Street. Events run the gamut with fashion shows, chalk drawings in the street, film screenings, food trucks, and arts and crafts vendors.

“Our aim is to expose different talents and bring them together ... letting creative people make things happen is still the centerpiece of it all,” Powers said.

With so many activities to choose from, it’s wise to plan ahead. Check out the full schedule of events at

Staff writer David Menconi contributed to this report.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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