NEON Festival returns to Downtown Norfolk for fifth year

NORFOLK, Va. - The NEON Festival is back for another year!

Celebrating its fifth year, the free festival welcomes everyone to experience the NEON District's offerings through art exhibitions, local and national performances and mural tours. It will be held October 17 and 18.

Since 2015, the festival has provided a platform for more than 300 artists and performers through dozens of art exhibitions, community programs and events tied to the annual celebration.

Below is the schedule for this year's events:

Thursday, October 17

  • NEON Festival at Chrysler Museum of Art with live music, food trucks and activities. Music provided by Virginia Arts Festival’s steel drum band The Rhythm Project, The Storyweavers and Logan Vath, plus glow yoga on the lawn at 7 p.m. with Bhav Brigade and accompanying music by PranaMuktiBhakti.
  • Mural Tours at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. leaving from Chrysler Museum Glass Studio
  • Third Thursday at the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio with returning muralist Esteban del Valle. In 2015, he left his mark on the NEON District with We Can Create What We Can Imagine, a mural he created in collaboration with Glass Studio team member Julia Rogers. Free admission with advance tickets.
  • NEON Artist Panel at the new Hague School at 6:30 p.m. featuring a muralist representing each year of the NEON’s public art program, followed by a performance from Old Dominion University’s Brass Choir
  • NEON X PRIDE, a night of underground music, live art and incredible energy celebrating the dignity and equality of all people as well as the local creative community! Hampton Roads Pride brings this new event to NEON Festival in the Duke Grace Building Garage from 5-10 p.m.
  • Teens with a Purpose Empowerment Event and reunion of the Girl Noticed mural subjects, with face painting and free yoga at the mural site along Boush Street between 6 and 7 p.m.
  • d'Art Center’s opening night of Unconventional, a national found objects art exhibition, with drinks, food trucks, a DJ, a printmaking make & take and works for sale in the gallery.
  • #workingartistsstudios open house with pop-up dance performances from Todd Rosenlieb Dance from 5-9 p.m. in Duke-Grace building, suite 250

Friday, October 18 

  • The Rutter Family Art Foundation and Commune opens a new group exhibition exploring portraiture and the human form through a variety of mediums and styles, Figuratively Speaking, curated by Janelle Burchfield
  • TCC @ NEON, 6-10 p.m. Tidewater Community College celebrates its newest venue, the recently opened TCC Perry Glass Wheel Arts Center, with music by their own Blue Moon Jazz Ensemble, Bay River Band, FORTRESSES, delicious morsels from TCC’s culinary students, two art exhibitions and glassblowing demos.
  • The Plot, 6-10 p.m. beer garden with O’Connor Brewing Company, food trucks, Prince Ink t-shirt pop up, performances from Virginia Stage Company, Teens with a Purpose, Governor’s School for the Arts, and others, closing the night with a big dance party with Freshtopia’s DJ BEE and newcomer Simone starting at 8:30 p.m.
  • Hurrah’s Copeland Center features a preview of Hurrah Players’ The Little Mermaid, poetry readings from ODU’s Writers in Community and The Muse Writers’ Center, and live musical performances from Kayce Laine and Mosquito Cabaret, 6-10 p.m.
  • Virginia Opera Backstage Tours at Harrison Opera House for a special peek behind the curtain at 6:30 and 7:15 p.m.
  • Hat-tober Fest at long-time NEON District men’s clothier Stark & Legum with a happy hour, live music and a trunk show, 5-9 p.m.
  • SPARK Poster Show presented annually by American Institute of Graphic Artists’ Hampton Roads chapter in mural-filled Magazine Lane, 6-10 p.m.
  • Pop-Up Art Galleries at the Hugh R. Copeland Center, Urban Discovery Ministries, 723 Granby Street and 717 Granby Street featuring local NEON artists and Norfolk State University students
  • NEON Emporium: Temporal Projections at new event venue The Neon House featuring live music from Clary Sage, Young Hierophant and Snake Mountain Revival with arts programming from ODU Ceramics, WHRO’s Emerging Leaders Board, Doodlefest and other artists
  • ODU's VMASC (Virginia Modeling Analysis and Simulation Center) and the first Artist in Residence Joshua Solomon present a 3D printed art exhibition at local tech business Amplified IT, 6-10 p.m.
  • Lift Up Your Voice by Richmond artist Kevin Orlosky presented at the Cofer lot, an interactive public art project asking participants to write messages on transparent film “megaphones” that will be installed throughout the evening on an elevated sculpture
  • Cofer Neighborhood Stage at the Cofer lot with live acoustic music from Jim Newsom, Static Collector and other local musicians 6-10 p.m.
  • Mural Tours at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. leaving from the Plot
  • Governor’s School for the Arts students showcase their talents with live jazz, the ON DISPLAY pop-up dance performance, face painting, chalk art at the Plot and new NEON Squared sidewalk murals
  • Cardinal Skate Shop Balance Trials on Starke Street with skateboard competitions
  • Silent Disco after-party at Culture Lounge, starting at 10 p.m.

To celebrate five years of the festival, the NEON District will reveal five new murals to the public on these days:

  • XENON, by Silas Baker, an Ocean View tattoo artist with a graffiti-inspired design for Bob’s Gun Shop billboard at 746 Granby Street
  • When Chameleons Roller Skate, by Ohio muralist Charley Frances, a whimsical animal surprise for the rear of 819 Granby Street
  • 3 Muses by Victoria Weiss, from the original class of 2015 NEON artists, returning to paint a lush and female-inspired mural on the rear of Homeland Contracting in Magazine Lane
  • The Dream Machine by North Carolina artist Jeff Beck, a bright and bold inspiration- themed robot mural on the rear of the Hugh R. Copeland Center, facing the Museum Apartments
  • Geometric Configuration #1, #2 and #3 by Australian Karri McPherson, NEON’s first international artist, a design of three geometric and colorful murals at the Wyndham Garden Norfolk Downtown

All murals and art projects can be seen on the public art map here. Artists range from those who are nationally and regionally known to Norfolk students completing their first art piece. With the 2019 artists' projects, the NEON District has completed more than 100 temporary and permanent artworks in five years, with 44 wall murals currently on view.

Related: Hotels at the Oceanfront prepare for Something in the Water 2020 

A full list of exhibitions, events and entertainment is available here.

Google Map for coordinates 36.855879 by -76.289183.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.