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Planning the Perfect Panoply Experience With Kids

Planning the Perfect Panoply Experience With Kids

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!

IF YOU GO: Tickets are only $5 per day or $10 per weekend and children 12 and under receive free admission.
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.

Your mask is your passport to creativity at Panoply's Global Village.

Saturday Afternoon

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!

See Also

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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View Comments (43)
  • I use to love Panoply when I was younger. Looking forward to taking my daughter for the first time!

  • We love Panoply! I love viewing the work of amazing artists. My kids love all the hands-on activities. It’s a wonderful way to spend a beautiful spring weekend.

  • Thanks for the guide! It’s been years since I’ve been to Panoply and this year I’m taking my girls! We’re coming from Muscle Shoals, so your guide helped me decide what day and time would be best to make the trip! Thanks!!

    • That’s so great to hear. That’s exactly why we did it. Hope you all have a great time!

  • My favorite moment was the year my daughter got to make a Space DVD. She wants to be an astronaut!

  • Cannot wait for Panoply this year! Excited to watch the AAA Stars and Clowns perform and Soles Dance Center!

  • We plan to go Friday and check out our daughters artwork in the Student Tent!

  • I haven’t been to Panoply since I was about 10 years old, but we are planning to take our daughters Friday night. I can’t wait!

  • I haven’t been to Panoply since I was a little girl, but I would love to take my children this year!

  • I always love visiting the vendor area and seeing all the great art and crafts from different people. AND I love to visit the Children’s Art tent to see the amazing art work by kids in our area, love it!

  • We’ve only lived here a few years and it seems like there was always something going on to make it so that we couldn’t go to Panoply. This year we are so excited to finally be able to go. Thanks for the guide!

  • My favorite Panoply event is watching my daughter dance with Merrimack Hall’s Dance Your Dreams group! This year they get to perform Saturday, 11:30, Jubilee Stage, I believe 😀

  • We have never been, but look forward to making family memories at Panoply this year!!

  • I know Panoply is great for kids but for me it means ‘date night.’ I love strolling through the art marketplace and getting fun food at the food tents. Panoply date night – don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!

  • Can’t wait to introduce my son to Panoply! Last time we had one he was just an infant!

  • My dad took me to Panoply every year. I remember my favorite thing to do was getting my face painted! As a young girl, I thought this was so cool!

  • I’ve never been to panoply but I would really love to go and take my 5 year old son. He is really in to music so I think he would have a lot of fun.

  • I’ve been so ready for this since the past 2 years didn’t happen. Brittany is going too, can’t wait, sounds like an excellent weekend!!

  • We use to have field trips to Panoply when I was in school. Such fun! Hope to take my kids this year!

  • I remember going to Panoply in 5th grade! I’m glad the school kids still get their own day. This will be the first year my 3 year old will really get to experience all the fun Panoply is about.

  • I loved dancing on stage with my high school show choir! It was like Glee, but even cooler. Um, at the time.

  • I love Panoply, I have been going since I was little:) Love all the artwork, the dancers, and now love that I can take my little girl.

  • I haven’t been to Panoply in years. The last time I have been was to play in a piano competition at Panoply. My children have never been so, I would love to go have some family fun at Panoply this year!

  • I look forward to taking my 2 year old this year. It will be a first for all of us.

  • Usually it is the fireworks, but my kids are old enough this year to really be into the craft stuff.

  • I remember going to Panoply as a elementary school student. My 6 and 4 year old sons have never been. I hope that me and my husband can take them this year !

  • I just noticed that you have Friday night down as First Responders night. Do first responders get any kind of discount or anything if they go that night ? My husband is a Huntsville Firefighter and part time EMT for Hemsi.

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