Huntsville’s 32nd annual Panoply Arts Festival is happening this weekend in Big Spring Park – if it’s a tradition for your family you’ll need to know about some big changes, and if you’ve never been, our guide below will help you navigate this huge festival with kids in tow.
- The first indicator that there are big changes in store for fans of Panoply was the shiny new logo The Arts Council unveiled this Spring. The new facelift is full of color and spark and a great look for one of the region’s largest festivals.
- There will be expanded space for the Art Marketplace, which means more opportunities for you to fill your home with original art. Be sure to look for the Arts In Action tent where your family can experience an up-close-and-personal view of the creative process at work.
- There are more musical acts than ever before – perhaps helping to fill the hole that Big Spring Jam left – with over 65 music and dance performances. Be sure to bring your own chairs & blankets since Panoply has moved to festival seating only this year. There will be no stage seating provided.
- For Mom & Dad: the Beer & Wine Garden is back and also expanded. It moves to a more central location in 2014 located near the Jubilee Stage.
- The addition to STEAM elements to Panoply’s hands-on activities is a new thing, and it will attract science, tech, art, and math fans of ALL ages! Get a detailed list of these interactives here – they include color comets, creative catapults, centrifugal fun, and lots more. Don’t worry – the ever-popular World Discovery Zone will still have art activities and international performances for your little one to enjoy as well!
- New this year to the Family Gazebo stage are storybook costume characters. Your little bookworm can meet some of their favorite book characters from local theater productions in person – Mother Goose, Cinderella, the Velveteen Rabbit, Snow White, and Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz are just a few. Be sure to bring your camera along!
Favorite Activities By Age
We asked Joanna White at The Arts Council (and fellow Rocket City Mom!) which activities kids of certain ages shouldn’t miss:
AGES 0-4 YEARS: Face Painting!
AGES 5-8 YEARS: Our new Creative Playspace! Featuring everything from hula-hooping to giant lawn games, this Playspace will be located in the lawn at the rear of the Huntsville Museum of Art and open during daylight hours of the festival.
AGES 9-12 YEARS: The new Panoply Testing Station, where they can test their STEAM-powered creations the Color Comets, and Creative Catapults.
AGES 12-16 YEARS: Watching or participating in the Homegrown Talent Contest. The preliminary round will be Saturday, April 26 beginning at 10:30 AM on the World Discovery Stage in the park. It’s open to everyone ages 10 and up; rules and guidelines can be found on our website.
Of course every act at the Family Gazebo Stage is kid-friendly and customized especially for the wee ones, but what if you want to explore the other stages? Joanna recommended a few bands/acts that any kid could cut a serious rug to. Get the full schedule for all the stages here.
Lumani Dance Theatre – at the World Discovery Stage from 6:00 – 6:30 PM (Middle Eastern Dance)
JUICE – at the Showcase Stage from 6-7 PM (Huntsville’s favorite party band)
Academy for Academics & Arts Stars & Clowns – at the Valley Jubilee Stage from 2:00 – 2:30 PM
The Jake Leg Stompers – at the Showcase Stage from 5:30 – 7:00 PM (Chicken fried, pre-war, Hokum-billy jug music)
The Zooks — at the Buffalo Rock Center Stage from 5:45 – 6:45 PM (Featuring your favorite rock and Motown sounds)
Bourbon & Shamrocks – at the World Discovery Stage from 7:00 – 8:30 PM (Irish folk songs & general mayhem)
KUSH – at the World Discovery Stage from 5:15 – 6:15 PM (Huntsville’s favorite reggae band)
Mambo Gris Gris – at the World Discovery Stage from 5:30 – 7:00 PM (Huntsville’s favorite Latin band)
Panoply Safety Pro-Tips
The main Guest Services are located near the Family Gazebo Stage on Williams Avenue. They include HEMSI/First Aid, the Info Booth where the Panoply Lost & Found is located, and a mobile charging station. The Lost Kids tent is also located in that area. Panoply provides free wristbands to every child through the gate and encourage parents to write their cell phone number on the inside of the wristband before securing it on their child. If the child is found by a Lost Kids volunteer, the volunteer will simply call the number on the inside of the band to locate the parent.
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. A festival map will be distributed at the entry gates of Big Spring Park.
– PANOPLY HOURS –
Friday, April 25 from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 26 from 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 27 from 12:00 – 7:00 p.m.
– ADMISSION –
Kids 12 and under FREE!
All adults: $10 at the gate
Why wait in long ticket lines with squirmy kids? Buy your pass online for $7.50 in advance AND save some money!
What are YOU looking forward to at this year’s Panoply? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy teens and two ridiculous dogs, spouse of one incredible guy, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Executive Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and conduct freelance marketing and SMM work.