Under-the-Radar Arts Festivals You Need to Start Planning for Now

Art Festival LEAD
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Arts festivals are the great cultural equalizers of our generation; they often feature high-caliber pieces to occupy more serious fans while still keeping the atmosphere subdued enough for those who feel overwhelmed by more extravagant options. And while the ever-accessible corners of the Internet have granted us the ability to enjoy artwork created all around the world, nothing will ever trump a tangible, first-hand festival experience. Soaking in a painting up close can conjure emotions that staring at a computer screen could never replicate; interacting with installations and sculptures often delivers a deeper appreciation that could never be put into words.

These festivals, biennials, and art shows are where some of the most sensational artists of our time come to show off their work. Art enthusiasts no longer have to trek off to high profile cities such as New York or Paris to experience the latest on the art scene. Travelers looking for a culture fix can opt to attend arts festivals in unlikely domestic destinations from Grand Rapids to West Palm Beach. Whether for authentic live music or street art, artists are heading to these hidden gems. It's where seasoned art collectors and passionate art enthusiasts come to revel in cutting-edge works from today's top artists. Here, we take a look at some must-visit art events taking place in the most charming (and hidden) of destinations.

CANVAS, West Palm Beach, Florida
November 11-20, 2016

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This outdoor museum initiative draws internationally recognized artists to participate in events that turn public spaces into contemporary landmarks. Championing art in public places, CANVAS transforms landscapes into an interactive art experience, activating spaces and engaging with the city from concept to completion. Colossal murals and installations punctuate the landscape, along with a complement of public and private events as a nexus between the artists and the community. Among these interactive art experiences is CANVAS Kids Day at Hilton West Palm Beach, known for its repertoire of eclectic international artwork. An established artist will work with local underprivileged children to create a life-sized mural to be displayed at the hotel for at least a year and symbolize this year's theme—connection.

Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston SC:
May 26-June 11, 2017

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Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, S.C., renowned for opera, is a treat for the senses and a cornucopia of offerings. Talented musicians produce pleasing melodies, skillful dancers fly through the air, and visual artists create pieces that take patrons to a different time and place. For 17 days and nights each spring, Charleston, South Carolina's historic theaters, churches, and outdoor spaces fill with performances by renowned and emerging artists in opera, theater, dance, and various musical genres. It was founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who sought to establish a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi (The Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy. Now approaching its 41st season, guests looking to experience America's premier performing arts festival can enjoy award-winning accommodations in the heart of the Historic District at the quintessential French Quarter Inn.

Vivid Sydney Festival:
May 26-June 17, 2017

Sydney's Vivid Festival of Light
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Crowds of thousands have flocked to Sydney's harbor to catch a glimpse of the Vivid Light Festival installment. If you're looking for an art event that roars alive at night, the Vivid Sydney is a must-see. The festival of light, music, art and ideas transforms the city of Australia into a vibrant creative hub each year, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the globe. The festival is designed to showcase the entire city as one big living canvas that runs from Hyde Park through Macquarie Street, Sydney Opera House, and Circular Bay. It's the largest celebration of light, music, and ideas in the Southern Hemisphere. This year, visitors got to witness over 60 light installations that included a stunning projection on the Sydney Opera House and a ghostly mapped water projection on water.

Main Street Forth Worth Arts Festival:
April 20-23, 2017

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The #1 Arts festival in Texas and largest four-day event in the Southwest boasts a magnificent mile of diverse art forms including fine arts, culinary arts, and music. As Downtown Fort Worth's largest and most popular annual event, the festival is packed with fascinating sights and sounds as thousands of fine artists, dancers, musicians, and food vendors partake in the four-day celebration. More than 300 live performances take place, and over 200 artists line the historic red bricks of Main Street, where revelers can find everything from stunning oil paintings to neat kinetic sculptures and vibrant jewelry. The event features activities for all ages from Fort Worth's largest music festival MUSIC ON MAIN to MAIN ST. creates for little Picassos in the making. With free admission and family-friendly arts and crafts areas, this event is ideal for all ages.

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