Charlotte International Arts Festival From the Blumenthal: 9/16 – 10/2

For the first time since opening its doors in 1992, Blumenthal Performing Arts is programming a significant portion of its events outside the bounds of Uptown Charlotte. With the launch of the first-ever CHARLOTTE INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL (CIAF), in addition to plentiful events centered Uptown, CIAF programming will also take place in South Charlotte’s Ballantyne neighborhood.

The 17-day celebration of more than 200 arts and culture offerings for people of all ages will imbue the city from Uptown to South Charlotte with inspiration, creativity, fun, and play. For more information about CIAF, visit charlotteartsfest.com.

“CIAF marks numerous ‘first-ever’ projects and initiatives,” said Blumenthal President and CEO Tom Gabbard. “Among the firsts we are most excited about is this major festival hub we are creating in Ballantyne. On many days, Ballantyne’s Backyard will be active for 12-plus hours with creative projects from Australia, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. The enthusiastic support of the team at the Northwood Office played a big part in deciding the time was right.”

Ballantyne’s Backyard, a former golf course turned green space and host to a multitude of outdoor events, retail, and pop-ups, will entertain numerous CIAF engagements and installations highlighting the stellar international artists coming to Charlotte to showcase their work, as well as incredible local talent. Many of the events in Ballantyne’s Backyard are free, with ticketed events starting at $5.

“South Charlotte has never seen art programming to this scale before,” said Hailey Rorie, Director of Community Relations at Northwood Office. “We are making history by having such iconic, awe-inspiring installations and performances like Man, Luminarium—Architects of Air, Wanted, and so much more right in our backyard. It’s very exciting for our community.”

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The Queen City will bustle with live performances, immersive art installations, and an abundance of inspired creations with a focus on the visual and performing arts—all in celebration of creativity, innovation, and community. Keep an eye on charlotteartsfest.com and @cltartsfest for the most up-to-date information.

Events centered in Ballantyne’s Backyard will include:

Luminarium—Architects of Air

Out of Nottingham, UK, an immersive walk-through experience that invites visitors to a world apart from the normal and everyday through labyrinthian tunnels and cavernous domes of saturated color accompanied by a gentle sensory soundscape.

September 16–October 2. Tickets are $5.

Man

From Australian artist Amanda Parer and the studio that brought us the “big bunnies” invasion of Uptown comes Man, a large-scale, contemporized version of Rodin’s “Thinker.” Man holds his head in search of answers and invites visitors to do the same. Charlotte-based musician Jason Hausman, owner of Emmy Award–winning audio branding studio Hot Sakē, has been commissioned to create a musical soundscape as the sonic backdrop to Man.

September 16–October 2. Free.

eVenti Verticali – WANTED

Live virtual animation inspired by comics and videogames from the 80s that portrays different landscapes and scenarios in which the characters interact. Two aerial artists are tossed around between spy story scenes and acrobatic combats.

September 16–18 and September 22–25 at 7:45 pm and 9:15 pm. Free.

Birdmen

Huge, illuminated, larger-than-life bird puppets rove the streets. These flying animals are operated by mysterious men. We, humans, are unnoticed by these creatures. Are they living in another dimension and what is their reason to invade our streets?

September 16–18 and September 22–25 at 5:30 pm and 8:15 pm; September 21 and 28 at 5:30 pm. Free.

Charlotte International Arts Festival

Mentalgassi

This trio of German urban street artists creates large-scale photographs in the round, which they print onto larger-than-life illuminated balloons and affix outdoors. By combining photography, sculpture, image manipulation, and street art, they transform ordinary objects into art and make passersby smile. Their work has been seen in many cities around the world, including London, Berlin, Brazil, and Finland.

September 16–October 2. Free.

I Am

By Blumenthal Fellow David Butler

With so many amazing reasons to love the City of Charlotte, it can be easy to forget what makes the city shine…its people! Artist and Charlotte native DavehasWingz documents the city center and its visitors with limited edition Polaroids. If you find Dave roaming the streets of uptown, simply ask him to take your picture and he will gladly provide you with a free memento that will serve as not only a reminder of an amazing night in the city but also a constant reminder that people are what help Charlotte shine and our voices are what help Charlotte be great.

Keep an eye on social media for pop-up dates. Free.

Mazing Shadows

By Blumenthal Fellow Oliver Hopkins

Mazing Shadows asks you to take an adventure with friends and family through a labyrinth constructed out of shadows. Try your best to navigate the many twists and turns and along the way enjoy a dazzling display of shadow-based art forming a beautiful world anyone can get lost in wandering and wonder.

September 16–October 2. Free.

QC Crown Towers

By Blumenthal Fellows Jason Payne and Bunny Gregory

Five towers form the five points of Charlotte’s ubiquitous crown logo. Each tower is a representation of the ingenuity and ideals of the artists Jason Payne, Bunny Gregory, and other local artists. The people of the city are the ones that bring it to life with their energy; each tower is illuminated from within to illustrate that the crown shines forth from all involved in the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan area.

September 16–October 2. Free.

Queen Charlotte’s Secret Garden

By Blumenthal Fellow Kimberly McGuire

Did you know Queen Charlotte was an amateur botanist? Imagine what her garden may have looked like and who she may have allowed to visit. Come and take a peek at this playful fantasy, with its enchanting scenery and colorful, light-filled surprises at night. 

September 16–October 2. Free.

Festival Fit

YMCA Fitness Classes

Have you ever taken a yoga class near an incredibly large-thinking MAN? Take a stroll through Ballantyne’s Backyard and enjoy FREE yoga and family yoga classes provided by the Ballantyne YMCA.

September 16–October 2 at various times. Full schedule of classes available here. Free.