The 8th Annual NEON Festival took place on Thursday, October 19 and Friday, October 20, 2023 from 6-10pm in Norfolk’s first official arts district, the NEON District. The NEON Festival is a free two evening event that encourages visitors to explore and discover the NEON District. The festival celebrates the energy in NEON and draws from the passion and creativity in Downtown and the region. Anchored by the Chrysler Museum of Art and Harrison Opera House and extending to The Plot on Granby Street, the NEON District includes many creative small businesses and arts partners that contribute to the festivities. Have a look at the entertainment planned for the festival, our frequently asked questions, the new public art on display, and our sponsors.
Click here for a map of the NEON District.
Some of Norfolk’s brightest musicians, comedians and performance artists will converge on the NEON to energize streets and stages throughout the district. Thursday, October 19 the festival enlivens the Chrysler Museum of Art campus while on Friday, October 20 the activities center around The Plot and Granby Street businesses. Make sure to swing by d’Art Center, Commune and the Copeland Center for pop-up art galleries, The Plot for main stage entertainment, Push Comedy for belly laughs and the Cofer Lot for DJ sets and interactive art.
Thursday, October 19, 2023
- 5pm - 7:45pm Art Activities for All
Join teaching artist, Sarah Harrington, for a fun art activity available for all ages. Create “shrink a dink” keychains to wear throughout the night that resonate with the theme, “what makes you feel like you belong?”
- 5:45pm - 6pm Twinkle Toes Dance
The Twinkle Toes Performing Arts Company strives to bring the joy of dance to their surrounding community, with classes, competitions, and performance opportunities for every child, every heart, and everybody.
- 6:15pm - 6:30pm Norfolk Dance Collective
Norfolk Dance Collective is a new professional contemporary modern dance company aiming to share their passion for movement through works exhibiting resilience, tenacity, and humanness.
- 6:45pm - 7:15pm La Primavera Strings
La Primavera Strings, the leading string quartet in Hampton Roads will be performing Bridgerton-style pops with a classical twist!
- 7:30pm - 8pm 757 Tidewater African Cultural Alliance Dance
Ghanaian born Rita Addico Cohen, Founder/Executive Director of TACA, the Tidewater African Cultural Alliance, is excited to share a little bit of the rhythms she learned while recently in Ghana. Give us 30 minutes of your time, and we'll give you 30 minutes of JOY, accompanied by traditional AND Afrobeats dance and music that will lift your mood and take your soul to Africa instantly. No experience or passport required!
- 5pm - 6pm The Rhythm Project
The Rhythm Project All-Stars is the flagship ensemble of the Virginia Arts Festival’s Community Engagement Program, comprised of high school students throughout Hampton Roads that perform Caribbean steel pan music of the highest caliber.
- 6:30pm - 7pm Ghost Town Union
Ghost Town Union is a five-piece band that plays original Americana music and select covers.
- 7:15pm - 8pm Stage Select
Stage Select is a geek rock band originating from Virginia Beach their show is a blend of video game, anime, & TV/Movie theme songs. Follow them @StageSelectBand.
- 5:45pm - 8:30pm The Human Library where Books are Humans & Reading is a Conversation.
Members of the Community will serve as "books" that can be "borrowed" to nurture discussions about lived experiences, from the taboo to the informative. Stop by and have a 20-minute conversation, meet a human in your community, and be open to experiencing a new perspective.
- 5pm - 8pm 2023 Artists/Educators Exhibition Reception in the Family and Student Gallery
- 5pm - 6pm Caricatures with Lanier
Visit, watch, and participate in caricature portraiture with teaching artist Lanier Williams.
- 6pm Toast to Artist/Educators
Join us to for a toast to celebrate the 33 artists/art educators from Norfolk and Portsmouth whose work is currently displayed in the Margaret Shepard Ray Student & Family Gallery. Come celebrate teachers who work to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers.
- 6:15- 6:45 p.m. Draw-along with Lanier
Teaching artist Lanier will lead an interactive draw along activity in the Gifford room. Come with an open mind and eagerness to learn! Materials to participate will be provided.
- 7pm - 8pm Caricatures with Lanier
Visit, watch, and participate in caricature portraiture with teaching artist Lanier Williams.
- 5pm - 8pm Visit the NEON Festival info booth, Jpixx Interactive Photobooth, VisitNorfolk's mobile visitors center, Metronet, Old Dominion University, and more
- 5:15pm Festival Opening Ceremony
Join the opening ceremony and blessing by Chief Anderson in front of a new sculptural piece at Chrysler, Tsenacommacah. This term defines the native Powhatan people who encompass the surrounding Hampton roads area.
- 5:30pm - 6:45pm Renzi live painting
Experience a live painting performance by Renzi, a contemporary artist and body painter whose cathartic visionary skills come alive through themes of surrealism and spirituality. Inspired by her indigenous roots, Renzi’s “heartwork” focuses on conceptualizing life experience through ancestral, community based, and personal perspectives.
- 6pm - 8pm Plant Norfolk family decoupage activity
- 7pm - 8pm Bhav Brigade Glow Yoga class
Bhav Brigade is a grassroots, entirely donation-based, pop-up platform that brings affordable, accessible, philanthropic yoga and wellness out into the community. Two teachers will be co-leading a glow yoga class featuring lighting and sound displays on the front lawn.
- 5:30pm - 6pm Art Walk and Talk
Join one of the Chrysler Museum’s docents for an intriguing walk through the galleries, highlighting special works of art within the collection.
- 6:30pm - 7pm Kayce Laine Sound Bath
Kayce Laine, a full-time Certified Sound, Crystal and Reiki Practitioner whose participation in the NEON Festival has become tradition, returns with her crystal bowls to diffuse calming and healing sounds throughout the gallery spaces.
- 6:30pm -7:30pm Norfolk Tour Company Art Tour leaving from the Glass Studio steps
- 7pm - 8pm Pre-show entertainment by James Manno on the Glass Studio steps.
James Manno is lead guitar player for Man Called Noon in Chicago and frontman for his bands James Manno & the B.O.T's and James Manno and the Happiness Band. A long time ago, James was in a Tenacious D cover band act called Hellacious Z. He is releasing his solo album Diablerie officially in November of 2023, a departure from his other work and a foray into the realm of Americana.
- 8pm - 9pm Norfolk Tour Company Art Tour leaving from the Glass Studio steps
- 8pm - 10pm Glass After Dark with music performed by Andre Love. Use code NEON for free admission!
The Xchange fam is getting in on the NEON Festival celebrations with DJ sets, a vintage clothing pop-up and raffles all night long.
- 7pm - 7:45pm SMILES
- 7:45pm - 8:30pm DJ PEARL
- 8:30pm - 9:15pm DJ ALLNATUREL
- 9:15pm - 10pm WIVVE
Friday, October 20, 2023
- 6:05pm - 6:20pm Virginia Opera
- 6:30 DJ Gabe Niles
- 6:35pm - 6:55pm The Governor's School for the Arts Jazz Band and Vocal Students
- 7pm DJ Gabe Niles
- 7:15pm - 7:25pm Synergy Dance Team
- 7:35pm Teens with a Purpose
- 8pm DJ Gabe Niles
- 8:15pm Akeylah Simone and her live band delivers a fusion of Rock, Hip Hop, R&B, Pop & Soul in an eclectic set of original music.
- 9pm - 10pm DJ Closing Set with Gabe Niles and STARTT
- 6pm - 10pm Beer Garden with Smartmouth Brewing Company, Water's Edge Winery, Avocargo, Old Dominion University, MetroNet and VisitNorfolk
- 6pm - 10pm Jpixx interactive photo booth. Jpixx is a local video agency with international reach and recognition that provides captivating execution, dramatic imaging, inspired design and effective creative solutions that deliver successful results. Visit their booth and participate in this year’s highlight video!
- 6pm - 7pm Chalk art and temporary arm tattoos with The Governor's School for the Arts visual art students
- 6pm - 8pm Balloon twisting with Clown Boy
- 6pm - 10pm Lil Truck of Tools family activities
- 6:30pm - 7:30pm Norfolk Tour Company Art Tour leaving from Cementiscope sculpture at the Plot
- 8pm - 9pm Norfolk Tour Company Art Tour leaving from Cementiscope sculpture at the Plot
- 6pm - 10pm Festival beer garden with Smartmouth Brewing Company, Water's Edge Winery and La Cucina di Sophia
- 6pm - 10pm 757 Makerspace presents ILLUMINATE art exhibition, Diner en Coleur, live music and beer garden
- 6pm - 6:30pm Bryson Jett live
- 6:30pm - 7:30pm Jared Farrell live music
- 8pm - 10pm Sunnyside Collective DJ sets
Join Foster Beauty for a night of fashion, art & music at the NEON Festival Fashion Show. Full details here.
- 6pm - 7:30pm Rated Pretty Girl Live Makeup Showcase. 7 makeup artists will create makeup looks inspired by NEON District murals using theater, fashion or special effects makeup. The winner will be announced at 7:30.
- 6pm - 6:15pm DJ Class
- 6:15pm - 6:35pm Mario Bonds
- 6:45pm - 7:05pm Nick, I am
- 7:15pm - 7:40pm Maria Rose is a pop/RnB singer, songwriter and dancer
- 7:40pm - 8pm DJ Class
- 8pm - 9pm Foster Beauty Fashion Show
- 9pm - 9:15pm Foster Beauty Fashion Show announcements and designer auction
- 9:30pm - 10pm DJ Class
- 6pm TCC Jazz Band
- 7pm DJ
- 7:15pm Diamond Chanell
- 7:30pm DJ
- 8pm Lori Creek and the Dapper Damned
- 8:30pm Jayography Dance Group
- 8:40pm - 10pm Closing DJ Set with Charles Rasputin
VENDORS & ACTIVITIES
- TCC Culinary School demonstrations
- TCC Visual Arts Photobooth
- Aerial Spirit Dance Aerial Performances and Mini Aerial Lessons
- Noah Walker caricatures
- 757 vs The World’s Little Light Film Lab
- Diamond Chanell body painting
- Lamia's Crepes
- 6pm - 10pm NEON Community Gallery featuring artists Shawna Carey, Monica Carlos-Rife, Vienna Harvey, Richard Howard, Emily Lopez, Rashad (Xpressart), Tiffany Reed, Renzi, Corinna Sayward and Wendy Waller
- 6pm - 10pm Norfolk Collegiate Lower School art installation on the patio
- 6pm Hurrah Players Present songs from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
- 6:30pm live music from Tony Burgess
- 7:30pm ODU Dance Professor James Morrow presents "I met the soul walking along the path" with choreography by James Morrow, music by Michael Wall and costume by Mico Fuentes
- 8pm - 9pm Writers in Community annual poetry reading
- 6pm - 8pm The month of October is Hat-Tober Fest. Come in and preview the new styles at the Show Room
- 8pm Stark & Legum will be one of the featured designers at the Foster Beauty Fashion Show at Harrison Opera House
Art, music and fashion take over Soiree Bistro for NEON Festival in an explosion of creativity, hosted by KELO. Between each performance, delight in runway fashion exhibitions, live art and more from premiere creators. Featuring art by Chris Green, Bria Tyler, Artcedes, Shalina Mitchell and Austin D. Morris. Details here.
- 6:00pm DJ Assthetic Opening Set
- 7:05pm Tempseas Performance
- 7:15pm DJ WIVVE
- 7:30pm JASMINE TIARRA Performance
- 8:00pm Kevo Performance + Surprise Guest
- 8:20pm Norva Reign Performance
- 8:40pm Tyler Donavan Performance
- 9:00pm TeezySoDope, H.I.M. the Poet
- 9:20pm FORTRESSES LIVE
- 9:40pm KELO & Friends
- 9:55pm Fake Uzumi
- 6pm - 10pm Night Shift Collective Presents Full Disclosure Exhibition Opening. Featuring artists Janice Dulay, Cat Baker, Will Grace, Korey Jackson, Christopher McCain, Nalan Smartt Jr., Malik Emmanuel, Jade Brown, Andre' Martin, Aria Maisey, and Frank Milea. Curated by Will Sprueill and juried by the NEON District Public Art Committee.
- 7pm Full Disclosure Award Ceremony
- 6pm - 10pm Peep the DJ
- 6pm - 9:30pm Free Improv Shows every 20 minutes
- 6:50pm - 10pm Nightmare at NEON in the alley behind Push Comedy Theater. Inspired by Scott Quirk’s Six Sick Soliloquies, Push Comedy Theater’s The 666 Project presents six spine-tingling soliloquies to count us down to opening night Saturday, October 21st! Actor soliloquies every 30 minutes.
- 6pm - 10pm WHRO's Emerging Leaders Board interactive activity, "What's Your Headline?"
Join WHRO's Emerging Leaders Board in an interactive journey to create your own headline! Learn more about WHRO's expanding journalism department in our community, strike a pose with the headline you created, and add your newspaper headline to the "NEON NEWS WALL"!
6pm - 10pm Visit hidden gem of the NEON District, the Renova Center. Enter from Wilson Avenue next to the Copeland Center or Virginia Beach Boulevard across from Harrison Opera House.
In the parking lot:
- Old Dominion University Blacksmithing
- Norfolk Zine Fest
Inside the health and wellness center:
- Old Dominion University Sculpture on display featuring ODU students Cloie Ali, Jacqueline Kay, Megan Obenaus, Aliya Head, Nicole Baba and Seville Partida
- NEON Pop Up Gallery featuring artists Greg Bockheim, Lily Bockheim, Richard Mazer, James Morrow, Janae Thompson and Innocent P. Mbasela "Mwaipungu"
- Veteran, Active-duty Military, and Law Enforcement Art Gallery featuring paintings and drawings created by 8 veterans, in a variety of art styles, in Suite 120
- The Natural Path Juice Cafe
- 6pm - 10pm ODU Ceramics Pottery Sale and Fundraiser on the patio
NEON X Pure Lagos
The curators behind Pure Lagos present Afro Color & Verve: A Collection of Vibrant Artworks from Modern African Diaspora Artists + A Taste of Contemporary Afropolitan Cuisine + Sweet Sounds of Afrobeat.
Valet entry to the 3rd floor gallery space in 801 Granby. Text 757-944-8506 for access.
Stop by Plant Norfolk during the 8th Annual NEON Festival from 6pm - 10pm to contribute to the Hermitage Museum’s community planter created by artist Amber Pierce!
- Check out Plant Norfolk’s delightful collection of houseplants available for sale
- Help paint the community planter
- Roll a clay coil to add to a collaborative vessel
- Learn about the re-opening of the Hermitage’s Visual Arts School in January 2024
Learn more about Amber + her work here.
The Xchange and Commonwealth Tattoo fam are getting in on the NEON Festival celebrations with DJ sets, a vintage clothing pop-up and raffles all night long.
- 7pm - 7:45pm GIA
- 7:45pm - 8:30pm TOMII
- 8:30pm - 9:15pm STARTT
- 9:15pm - 10pm RYLO
- 6pm - 10pm NSU X NEON, "Navigators of Purpose"
Norfolk State University undergraduate and graduate students will host an interactive printmaking demonstration and a musical performance by NSU Alumni. The Kloeppel family has generously loaned the vacant space at 814 Granby Street as a venue.
As we navigate through the complexities and contradictions of the modern day, these artists capture all of our ambitions to create a brighter future. Fine art students from Norfolk State University use a variety of media to reflect on current affairs and their own personal journeys to curate a favorable future.
Wander through the neighborhood and discover tiny art happenings, large-scale murals and pops of neon color and light. See works on walls by celebrated international artists and local heroes.
The Kindness of Strangers is a heavy nod to the vibrant NEON District in Norfolk, Virginia. As a creative, Kyle Confehr meets all sorts of people when doing public art. But the response to his work in Norfolk was nothing but positive and encouraging. He wanted this piece to reflect that back on the city that showed him so much love. The mural was made possible by Grow.
Kyle Confehr is an ambidextrous artist, designer and friend based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His work blurs the lines between art and graffiti by weaving nostalgia, humor and personal experience into densely ornate pieces.
NEON Walls is upcoming street art and graffiti project by Few and Far in Magazine Lane. Artists will be live painting during the second night of NEON Festival, October 20, 6pm - 10pm.
Sweet Treats is a recently completed mural by Tessa Hall on the rear of Hummingbird Dessert Boutique in Magazine Lane.
As a continuation of their artistic bench project, Governor’s School for the Arts students initially painted six sidewalk mural squares in the NEON in 2018. Now an ongoing project, visual art students repaint and add new mural squares on sidewalks annually.
GSA students also refreshed the Magazine Lane “carpet” seen behind 801 Granby Street, a project completed every two years.
2023 artworks and artists include:
Walking on Water, Iolana Nuzzo, Magazine Lane carpet
Anatomy of NEON, Aspen Knight, Magazine Lane fence
• Jazzalin Cassanova - Fish at Granby entrance to The Plot
• Atticus Lewis - Good Luck Bad Luck at Cardinal Skate Shop
• Lindsey McDonald - Lines between Xchange and Commonwealth Tattoos
• Peyton Sayre - City Fish near Zeke’s patio on Wilson
• Isabella Schetzel - Floral Abstract at Virginia Furniture near corner of Granby and Olney
• Carrington Smith - Woman with Headphones at Hummingbird Macarons
• Ava Terry - Can You Fry an Egg on the Sidewalk? at Bob’s on Granby
• Sofia Cateternam
• Jordan Collins
• Abigail Craun
• Zachary Ellis
• Paul Miani
Norfolk Public Schools and the NEON District collaborated with the condo owners of the Gray Building to create a rotating window gallery space, providing young artists in grades Kindergarten through 12 a place to exhibit their works in the community. Curated by NPS art teacher Sarah Harrington, the windows have been refreshed with new art for this year's NEON Festival.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Got a question about the NEON Festival? We’ve got answers! From parking to programming, expand the questions below for insights to make your NEON Festival experience a memorable one! For anything not covered or more information, you can contact us here.
NEON is an acronym for New Energy of Norfolk, which represents the energetic and creative community of Norfolk’s arts district.
Yes! We will need volunteers on Friday, October 20, 2023. We need beer pourers, festival guides and more! Register for a shift this September.
Thursday, October 19 the festival runs from 5pm-10pm. The Chrysler Museum is open late 5pm-9pm and the Chrysler Glass Studio is open 8pm-10pm for Glass After Dark. Friday, October 20 the festival runs from 6pm-10pm on Granby Street and at The Plot.
The NEON Festival is a great place to bring kids for early evening festivities. There will be live music, arts and crafts, and other fun activities for kids and families.
Yes, the NEON Festival’s events are all free and open to the public.
Great question! There is one large new murals and many small art projects on view throughout the district. You can find all of the new art and a complete listing of the schedule on this page.
Some things not to miss in 2023 include the Foster Beauty Fashion Show at Harrison Opera House, NEON Walls in Magazine Lane, the new secondary stage in the Retail Alliance parking lot and a new community gallery in the Renova Center. All are new additions to the NEON Festival!
A LOT! Festival attendees can visit one of the NEON District eateries or find a snack at one of the food trucks or vendors around the festival.
Thursday evening at Chrysler try Avocargo for healthy and delicious fare or stop by the Youth Earn & Learn booth for produce and prepared snacks.
Friday evening over on Granby Street, Avocargo will be in front of the Plot. Lamia's Crepes and Youth Earn & Learn will be stationed at Retail Alliance. Local favorite La Cucina di Sophia will be at the Cofer Lot on Olney Road. Lastly, J&K Style Grill will be serving up burgers & fries in d'Art Center's parking lot.
You can also try one of the NEON businesses staying open late: La Brioche, Zeke's NFK, Hummingbird Dessert Boutique and Commune will all be open with dining options.
Yes! Both evenings of the festival offer many indoor activities in a variety of venues. In the advent of serious inclement weather, some outdoor programming may be moved indoors. Please follow @neonnfk or visit the festival page for updates.
The NEON Festival could not be possible every year without the generosity of our amazing sponsors: