Fill your senses with the sights, sounds and tastes of Oklahoma's most popular arts festivals.
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From the Art Deco architecture throughout Tulsa to sculpture and art displays scattered throughout Oklahoma City, Oklahomans have a deep-rooted appreciation for the arts. Therefore, it’s no wonder that tons of statewide events are hosted each year to celebrate the visual, performing and culinary arts. Embrace your inner Degas and adjust your beret: these artistic celebrations invite you to make the leap into an imaginative wonderland filled with fine art, live music and gourmet delights. Read on to discover some of Oklahoma’s best bets, and step into a veritable feast for the senses at one of Oklahoma’s top arts festivals.
Known as Oklahoma City’s “rite of spring,” the much-loved Festival of the Arts is the crown jewel of Oklahoma’s wide and varied arts festivals. Hosted since 1967, the Festival of the Arts is free to the public and celebrates all artistic endeavors – from photography and sculpture to local music and mouthwatering food – over the course of six action-packed days in late April. Live music and theatrical productions are hosted on four stages throughout the stunning Bicentennial Park, while over 140 artists from across the nation display their works within rows and rows of outdoor booths.
Bring the kids to this family-friendly art event for plenty of hands-on children’s activities and a play area, and don’t forget to visit the festival’s famous International Food Row. Over 30 food vendors set up camp to provide everything from appetizers to desserts with a decidedly cosmopolitan twist. If you enjoy trying international cuisine, munch on a Bavarian strudel or sample a plateful of Brazilian food. Less adventurous eaters can also enjoy traditional fair food like corndogs and Indian tacos.
Celebrating artistic talent for over 40 colorful years is Tulsa International Mayfest, one of the city's most loved events. This annual art extravaganza in downtown Tulsa attracts more than 350,000 spectators and welcomes hundreds of local and regional artists to showcase their craft – including dance, music and visual arts. Along with browsing artwork throughout indoor and outdoor galleries, make sure you enjoy live entertainment from one of the three on-site stages and treat yourself to fair food favorites from the delicious food court.
Oklahoma City’s colorful and historic Paseo Arts District is a work of art unto itself, but the district takes on new life during the annual, three-day Paseo Arts Festival held in May. As Oklahoma City’s oldest arts district, the Paseo is reminiscent of a Spanish village complete with stucco buildings, clay tile roofs and vivid colors. It is home to nearly 20 art galleries and 60 artist studios all within a couple of blocks walking distance.
More than 90 visual artists come together each year to display their juried works of art during the Paseo Arts Festival. Enthusiastic collectors and art novices are sure to find the perfect piece while browsing mediums like photography, wood pieces and ceramics. Two stages also provide live music and performance art, while children can create their own masterpieces in the children’s area. During this free event, area restaurants and galleries will be open, urging visitors to pop in and out of these charming local businesses as they make their way along the main thoroughfare.
For booths brimming with handmade goods and artistic pieces, delicious food, fun activities and toe-tapping entertainment, head to the Downtown Edmond Arts Festival held each May. This free, three-day event brings together over 100 artists displaying and selling their work, as well as performance artists and live music. Located on historic Route 66, downtown Edmond boasts a variety of unique boutiques, antique stores and trendy restaurants. During the festival, try out one of the area’s cafes or snack on traditional fair food like corndogs and cotton candy. You can also browse the booths to find out which artists took home the festival’s top prizes or find a shady spot near the stage to enjoy the sounds of jazz, blues and country music.
Lawton’s Arts for All Festival is southwest Oklahoma’s largest free juried art show. Mark your calendars and stop by to experience over 90 artist booths and two stages packed with live entertainment. Browse through creative expressions like photography, poetry, sculptures and paintings while catching performances by dance troupes and youth programs. Refuel with fair food favorites – funnel cakes, turkey legs, gyros and Italian roast beef sandwiches – before once again searching art spaces for unique gifts and relaxing in the garden surrounded by the sounds of smooth jazz.
Hosted each summer since 1969, the Nescatunga Arts & Crafts Festival highlights the ornate artworks of top regional artists throughout Percefull Fieldhouse on Alva's Northwestern Oklahoma State University campus. Visit this annual event to check out artist booths offering paintings, sculptures, photography, jewelry and pottery before visiting the food vendors for delicious grub. As one of the longest-running arts festivals in the state, this Oklahoma art show features more than 150 artists each year. Be sure to enjoy the sunshine while browsing the vast selection of designs and gifts, and make sure to stay until the end to see judges hand out awards to the top three artists per category.
Gather in downtown Sulphur's Artesian Plaza to celebrate First American arts during the annual Artesian Arts Festival. At this southeastern art tradition, visit one-of-a-kind artist booths representing 19 different tribes and discover must-have artwork like beautiful beadery, whimsical woodwork, stunning sculptures or pleasant pottery. Guests are sure to enjoy the live musical performances, tribal dance demonstrations, First American cuisine and children's activities.
A unique combination of performance and visual art, several chalk art festivals across the state pit participants in a race against the clock. Come by the Montmartre Chalk Art Festival in Chickasha to see artists create works of art using only chalk. At the Walkin' on Chalk Arts Festival in Altus, each participant is given a 6’ x 6’ section of pavement and roughly six hours to create their piece.
First American artists showcase stunning, handcrafted artwork at Oklahoma art shows. Experience diverse artwork created by members of 47 Native American tribes at the Cherokee Art Market in Catoosa, and enjoy cultural demonstrations like storytelling and flint knapping. Stock up on authentic Native American artwork offered at the Trail of Tears Art Show in Tahlequah, a multi-tribal arts show open to artists from all federally recognized Native American tribes. In honor of Native American Heritage Month, the Native American Arts & Crafts Market & Indian Taco Sale in Oklahoma City feeds hungry visitors traditional Tanchi Labona hominy and pork soup, as well as grape dumplings, best enjoyed after viewing all the eye-catching artwork.
Feeling inspired to support local artists? View the full list of upcoming art shows in Oklahoma, and prepare to witness breathtaking jewelry, woodwork, paintings, sculptures and more.