I was four years old when Huntsville hosted the very first Panoply Arts Festival. Every spring, my sisters and I would head into “town” to celebrate The Arts in all forms – music, dance, theater, arts and crafts. As a girl, dancing on a Panoply stage with my ballet studio was a highlight of my childhood. So it goes without saying that taking my own children to Big Spring Park this weekend will be nostalgic and incredibly meaningful to me.
For first-timers, the word Panoply (pa-nə-plē) comes from the Greek panoplia and means “a magnificent or impressive array”, and the event definitely lives up to the name. After last year’s devastating tornadoes and 2010’s rain deluge, Panoply is looking forward to a beautiful weekend to launch their 30th Anniversary.
Rocket City Mom has put together the perfect schedule for you to enjoy Panoply with your family. Follow our template and you’ll be sure to hit the kid-friendly highlights for all three days at the festival. Watch out for our “DON’T MISS” notations and you’ll be good to go!
Friday, April 27 – 5:00 – 9:00PM
Saturday, April 28 – 10:00AM – 9:00PM
Sunday, April 29 – Noon – 9:00PM
First, the basics: what to bring along. The weekend forecast looks pretty clear with a high around 81 degrees and a 30% chance of showers Sunday. Sunscreen is not optional at Panoply, folks. Grease ’em up good and wear a hat. Bring a light jacket for the breezy bits in the morning and evening. Remember to bring your camera! More information about parking, strollers (bring them), and coolers (don’t bring them), can be found on the Panoply FAQ page. The Huntsville Times will print a festival map Thursday and copies will be distributed at the entry gates of Big Spring Park.
Friday (Open from 5:00 – 9:00PM)
5:15-5:45PM – Say thank-you to all the police officers, firemen, paramedics, and aid workers while making your way into the park as they open the festival with First Responder Night. Start your evening at the Jubilee Stage and see the Academy for Academics and Arts (AAA) Stars & Clowns. DON’T MISS: Make your way over to the Music Village where you can bang on the drums with Panoply favorite Get Rhythm, sample different types of instruments at the Discover Music Tent, then make your very own musical instrument at Panoply Percussion.
7:45-9:00 – All that drumming works up an appetite, so grab some supper from one of the 15 food vendors on Wiliams Street, and head to the Showcase Stage. The whole family can enjoy the Hometown Hero’s performance, a classical blues cabaret with Phil Weaver, “Microwave Dave” Gallaher, Ken Watters, & Ingrid von Spakovsky.
Saturday Morning (Open from 10:00AM – 9:00PM)
10:30-11:15 – Start your day with an international tour! Dance to the Irish sounds of local favorite Bourbon & Shamrocks on the Global Village Stage, then head to the Masks Around the World Tent. DON’T MISS: There children can learn about the history of masks and make one of their own to be their passport to the Global Village. Begin your tour of the Global Village where seven countries will have beautiful tents that include cultural displays, hands-on children’s activities, and demonstrations. Kids can add to their mask at each country! The Global Village Countries include Poland, Ireland, Taiwan, The Philippines, United Kingdom and Iraq, Syria and India. Before you head to your next stop it might be a good time to get a sweet treat of ice cream or lemonade located nearby.
After snacks, head south of the red bridge to the Visual Arts Village, where demonstrating artists will share their craft. Once you’ve been inspired, add your own creative mark to Panoply by stopping at the Community Art Activity and helping “paint Panoply”. Don’t forget to take a picture at the nearby photo spot. After you have toured the Visual Arts Village you will definitely be ready for lunch. Make your way over to the Food Vendor Row on Williams Avenue and grab a bite. DON’T MISS: You can stop by the Panoply Posies Tent after lunch and turn your empty water or Pepsi bottle from lunch into a beautiful recycled flower!
Noon – 1:15PM – DON’T MISS: Plot a course for the Pano-Kids Gazebo for a visit with Dr. Osborn the magician. Sit tight, because after the magic act the Fantasy Players will take the stage for 30 minutes of interactive theater fun from 2:00-2:30.
Saturday Afternoon into Evening
Time for a relaxing stroll through the Art Marketplace where over 65 artists from around the nation will be selling their work. Clay, paint, glass, mixed media, medal sculpture, wood work and even tie-dye will all be featured. DON’T MISS: After visiting this blend of incredible talent you too will feel like you could paint a masterpiece, so head down to the Easel Art tent by the water and paint your own work of art.
6:45-7:30 – As evening approaches, you’ll want to make your way to the Family Food Tent for dinner and a show because the Super Toons will take the stage. Still want more? Head to the Valley Jubilee Stage for the AMC Four Star Jazz Orchestra then find a good spot and a funnel cake to watch the nightly fireworks.
Sunday (Open from Noon – 9:00PM)
1:00-1:30 – Start off the day with a dance performance at the Valley Jubilee Stage from Steps of Faith Performing Arts Center. DON’T MISS: Then head over to the Theatre Zone to transform yourself into your very own Panoply Super Hero! Make a cape out of a recycled t-shirt at Creative Capes, determine your superhero power and change old paper towel rolls into Panoply Power Bands – then have your face painted!
1:30-2:30 – Once you have created your new superhero identity, head to the PanoKids Gazebo for a barbershop quartet performance of the Sugar Pops. You will definitely want to get out your camera because there will be picture board cut-outs in the yard for photo opportunities nearby.
2:45 – 4:00 – Move on to the Theatre Demo Tent and participate in Improv Games For Everyone. Then go see the Valley Jubilee Stage for a special appearance by the original Junior League of Huntsville Rainbow Rhythm Band!
4:00 – 9:00 – Now’s the time to play catch-up if you missed anything. DON’T MISS: What better way to close out another great Panoply year than by watching the last fireworks show of the event over the duck pond?
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Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.