About This Festival
Art Outside will blow your mind. Everywhere you look, a crazy kaleidoscope of colors whirls and mixes: LED lights from the music stages, painters spattering on group canvases, neon-glowing art installations. For the young, free-spirited attendees it's just what the doctor ordered.
The fest more or less boils down to New Age workshops by day, raging music by night, and the chance to lay back on the grass and gaze at trippy art any time. Around 4,000 people turn up for the event, dressed to express. A winged fairy girl blowing bubbles might stand next to a guy with blue dreadlocks and a red clown nose, while a tattooed gent in a bowling shirt holds hangs with a tutu'ed lady wearing a unicorn head. Lack of creativity and self-expression aren't issues here.
The music is the main draw. While Art Outside doesn't book Lollapalooza-caliber names, it does offer a good spread of sounds. More than 75 bands play, spanning genres from reggae to funk to bluegrass, jam, glitch-hop, jazz, psychedelic and classic rock. Four stages spread across the grounds, and they're jumping from noon until sunrise. They're all relatively close together, so there's no real hassle getting from one to the other.
The Main Stage hosts the headliners. The Dome is another big one; it's a partially covered metal honeycomb structure where DJs spin and EDM fans cluster. The fest's liveliest spot, the Dome hosts the late night (and sunrise) sets. The smaller Midway Stage is mostly for workshops and performance art. Fire twirlers, aerialists, jugglers and other flow art shows happen here. The Folk It Up Stage is an intimate, tree-shaded venue for quieter, acoustic acts.
Loads of workshops take place during the day, some teaching pretty unusual skills. You may already know how to bellydance and tie-dye a shirt – if not, the fest has classes for that – but what about playing the didgeridoo or creating galactic portrait art? Art Outside brings you the knowledge. Other highlights include slacklining, where instructors teach how to rig a line using carabiners and a pulley system, and how to stay balanced while on the line; and zen workshops that enlighten attendees about breath work, sound meditation and balance. Yoga classes and shamanic sound immersion lessons are popular, too.
Eye-popping installations and sculptures dot the grounds. Wander by a patch of enormous wooden flowers. Check out the hulking metal spider or rubber globe. Explore the glowing trees. Most pieces are interactive and invite viewers to climb or pedal or grab the joysticks. Further immersive experiences are the community canvases by the stages, where painters create on the spot to the beat of live music.
Many artists also show their works is the venue's "gallery" – a huge white tent filled with psychedelic paintings, drawings and prints for sale.
Kids and Bites
Art Outside welcomes children. Kids under 12 get in for free. The Kids Korner puts on crafty activities for young ones, and clowns, face painters and a Baby Disco likewise entertain. There's even a family camping area.
Food trailers hawk all kinds of wares, both vegan and meaty, for when hunger strikes. Indian, African, Vietnamese and Mexican dishes are on offer, along with barbecue, Philly cheesesteaks, pizza and nachos. Local beers help wash it down.
History and Past Headliners
Art Seen Alliance, a group of local designers, organizes Art Outside. The festival launched in 2001 with a mission to let artists of all kinds display their work, and to inspire new forms of creativity by taking art out of its traditional setting and putting it into nature. The concept originated at Enchanted Forest during SXSW.
Past music headliners have included 2015's jammy/trip hop/brassy funk mash up of Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce, BoomBox, Bonobo, Papadosio, Michael Menert, Bluetech, KiloWatts, Dopapod, Nth Power, the Werks, Nightmares on Wax, and Gaudi. In 2014, Conspirator, Emancipator, Motet, Papadosio, the Polish Ambassador, Quixotic, Desert Dwellers and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe topped the bill.