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These articles were excerpted from Tapestry, a weekly newsletter that examines the arts and entertainment world in Charlotte and North Carolina.

What's new at the 2023 Charlotte SHOUT! festival? Here's a rundown

Nick de la Canal
Charlotte artist Swych paints a mural on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in preparation for the start of SHOUT!

What is the Charlotte SHOUT! festival?

In short, it's annual arts and culture festival with a reputation for transforming uptown Charlotte into a wonderland of interactive art, music, food and cultural offerings.

When is it?

Most street festivals only last a weekend, but Charlotte SHOUT! is stretched over 17 days from March 31-April 16, with live music happening nearly every day at three outdoor stages around uptown, and funky pop-up art installations in various areas all within walking distance.

Also, did we mention that there's a food festival-within-the-festival, as well as panel discussions and a speaker series with topics like art, artificial intelligence and poetry happening throughout?

There's a lot going on — too much to fit into just one article. Here, we've compiled a list of some big, can't-miss installations that are worth checking out. For a complete list of exhibits and events, visit the Charlotte SHOUT! website.

What's new this year?

Giant inflatable gnomes — In previous years, the festival had giant inflatable bunnies. This year, it's giant inflatable gnomes. A dozen of them are stationed around uptown. Visitors who pick up a booklet from the Charlotte SHOUT! lounge at 327 South Tryon St. and get a stamp at each gnome can win a prize.

Giant jack-in-the-boxes — Located on Levine Avenue of the Arts, this installation called "Pop!" has five colorful boxes with five inflatable creatures living inside them. Kids and adults can set them free by yelling or calling out to them.

Big bugs — Two giant insects have landed in The Green, created by local artists Ian Wegener and Adam Jochim. Visitors can make the "In(ter)sects" come alive by turning their wheels.

An alley transformed by murals — This ambitious project will transform a formerly-beige alleyway at 100 East 4th St. into a kaleidoscope of color. The work, titled "Luminous Lane" will have 30 murals from 30 different artists. See them paint the alley in real time over the next two weeks. The murals will remain after the festival ends as a permanent attraction in uptown.

Chair monster — Look! In the park! It's a chair! It's a monster! It's a chair monster! Local artist David Furman created this 60-foot creature in First Ward Park out of 100 wooden chairs.

Texts from the sun — Local artist Oliver Lewis has created a modern take on the sundial called "Star Talk," also located in First Ward Park. As the sun moves over the sculpture, short text messages appear in its shadow, like "I'm hot. #thesun."

Infinity birdhouse — A third sculpture in First Ward Park is the "Infinity Birdhouse" by local artist Ali Loncar-Bridges, inspired by an infinity mirror built by the artist's father. The sculpture is in front of ImaginOn.

 The team that built Charlotte's 'Pianodrome" inside Grace A.M.E. Zion Church held a celebratory jam session on March 28, 2023.
Nick de la Canal
The team that built Charlotte's "Pianodrome" inside Grace A.M.E. Zion Church held a celebratory jam session on March 28, 2023.

An amphitheater made of pianos — The "Pianodrome" just inside Grace A.M.E. Zion Church is both a sculpture and a performance venue. A team led by Scottish musician and artist Matthew Wright made the amphitheater out of 50 deconstructed pianos. Some of the pianos are still playable. The venue will be open every day for people to tinker with the keys or practice their skills, and it will host a number of musicians and live performances during the festival.

SHOUToke — Brazilian artist Aguinaldo Santos has created a giant neon radio in Bank of America Plaza called "SHOUToke." Visitors can step inside, grab a microphone and sing to passersby.

McColl Center glow-up — Beginning at dusk each night, you can see the McColl Center for the Arts in a new light. Artists Rebecca Lipps and Caleb Dickerson have created an interactive video projection titled "Bloom" that allows visitors to make giant flowers bloom on the building.

Light up neurons — This is your brain on art. See a giant light-up sculpture of brain neurons in front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame created by the international art studio Amigo & Amigo. Touch the neurons in the "Affinity" sculpture and the colors change.

 The "Affinity" sculpture sits in the plaza outside Charlotte's NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Nick de la Canal
The "Affinity" sculpture sits in the plaza outside Charlotte's NASCAR Hall of Fame.

What past favorites are returning?

Musical seesaws — This popular installation called "Impulse" returns to Levine Avenue of the Arts for this year's festival. Take a ride on one of about a dozen seesaws that glow and make sounds when they're in action.

Easter eggs — Local artists have decorated 13 giant Easter eggs scattered around The Green. Each artist has also written an explanation of their design in the link above.

Live music everywhere — As in past years, visitors can enjoy live music nearly every day of the week at three outdoor stages around uptown. The main stage at 329 South Tryon St. will have musical acts Thursday through Sunday. Dozens of local acts will also perform throughout the festival at Victoria Yards. Lunchtime concerts will take place weekdays 12 - 2 p.m.at the "Cafe 400" stage at the 400 South Tryon Street Plaza.

Justin Hamilton of Leah and Louise serves food at the 2022 Charlotte StrEATs Festival at Gateway Village.
Grant Baldwin Photography
Charlotte SHOUT!
Justin Hamilton, of Leah and Louise, serves food at the 2022 Charlotte StrEATs Festival at Gateway Village.

You mentioned a food festival? Elaborate.

Yes. Charlotte SHOUT! will again host the Charlotte StrEATs Festival at Gateway Village on April 16, celebrating Charlotte's local culinary scene.

Admission is free, and attendees will get to check out an artisan market and enjoy cooking demonstrations, live music and art. Chef and TV personality Alex Guarnaschelli will also make an appearance.

In addition, local foodies can get a ticket to a culinary tasting tour at Gateway Village on April 15, and sample a variety of foods from restaurants representing different neighborhoods in Charlotte.

What else is there to do?

There are many more art installations, art projects, scavenger hunts, special events, performances, even yoga classes that are happening around uptown during the 17-day festival.

There will also be historical reenactors giving tours of two historic cemeteries in uptown on the first Saturday of the festival, and arcade games built from scratch on display at the Charlotte SHOUT! lounge. Each game was designed by the local nonprofit game organization Potions and Pixels, and decorated by a local artist.

In addition, visitors can order secret off-menu items from the Seventh Street Market eateries all festival long.

In total, organizers say there are more than 200 things to do, see and experience in uptown during the festival. This list only skims the surface.

For an expanded list of art installations and events, visit the Charlotte SHOUT! website.

Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal