Our neighbors to the north have been hard at work scheduling nine full days of artsy events featuring talent from the Lowcountry and beyond. Best of all, just about everything is free. Here are our top 10 picks for the North Charleston Arts Festival.

National Outdoor Sculpture Competition & Exhibition

North Charleston’s National Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition is on view throughout the year, but now’s a great time to check out the new additions to the picturesque Riverfront Park. In addition to the main exhibition, you’ll see sculptures scattered in green spaces throughout the city, including SaBrina Jeffcoat’s life-size gummy bears at Palmetto Gardens Park. On view May 2012-March 2013

Arts Festival Main Event

The Festival spans nine days, but the main event is centered around the weekend of May 5-6. That’s when you should head to the Charleston Area Convention Center Complex to check out a host of free events, including art exhibits, the Lowcountry Gem & Mineral Show, the Village Antiques & Collectibles Show, children’s activities, roving entertainers, a food court, and more. The four stages will feature acts like Eco Del Sur, Reggaeinfinity, and John Tudor. May 5-6. Charleston Area Convention Center Complex


This event, a collaboration between the Robert Ivey Ballet, the Youth Orchestra of the Lowcountry, and chART (together known as EnCorps Arts), is part of the main event, but worth highlighting on its own. The group had a successful performance at the Sottile last month, and now they’re bringing their dance/music/graffiti hybrid to the festival crowd at the PAC. Sat. May 5, 2 p.m. North Charleston Performing Arts Center

Lowcountry Indie Shorts 7: North vs. South

The Carolinas go head-to-head at this Lowcountry Indie Shorts event, presented by the Greater Park Circle Film Society. North Carolina filmmakers will be pitted against South Carolina filmmakers in two separate blocks of short films (at 5 and 8 p.m., respectively). Many of the filmmakers will be on-hand to take questions following each screening. Sat. May 5. Olde North Charleston Picture House

Outside the Line: Illustration Exhibition

We’re not biased when we promote this event, even if City Paper cartoonist Steve Stegelin is a featured artist. This exhibit includes works from Stegelin and other local illustrators like Melanie Florencio and power couple Erin Bennett Banks and Timothy Banks. Opening reception Tues. May 8, 5-7 p.m. On view May 1-18. 10 Storehouse Row

Art Walk

Local shops, restaurants, and salons will have works on view from various artists, and musicians like the Local Honeys and Sing the Body Electric! will be performing throughout the night. It’s all taking place on East Montague Avenue in Park Circle, but be sure to take a little detour to Chateau Avenue to check out the new chART murals. Wed. May 9, 5-8 p.m. Olde Village

African-American Fiber Art Exhibition: Mermaids & Merwomen in Black Folklore

The sixth annual juried exhibit at North Charleston City Hall explores creation stories inspired by the folklore of African water divinities. There will be a few pieces from Torreah “Cookie” Washington, who curated the show, as well as local artist Arianne King-Comer and New Yorker Teresa Vega, among others. Opening reception Thurs. May 10 at 6 p.m. On view through June 10. North Charleston City Hall

In the Distance of the Dream: Works by Mariannic Parra

Organizers are excited to have an international exhibition this year with French artist Mariannic Parra’s In the Distance of the Dream. The impressionist uses unique materials like volcanic sand, coal, and plexiglass to create her light-filled landscapes, which are inspired by poems by her husband, Jean Pierre Parra. Opening reception Thurs. May 10, 6-8 p.m. On view May 1-20. North Charleston City Hall

Olde Village Street Dance and Reggae Street Dance

This event starts off on Friday night with the East Coast Party Band playing in the streets of Park Circle. Then later in the evening, things heat up with music from De Lions of Jah, a Jacksonville-based group that blends roots, dance hall, and hip-hop influences. Fri. May 11, 6:30-10 p.m. Olde Village

Arts Festival Grand Finale

The week wraps up with a bang at the action-packed finale at Riverfront Park (rain site: Sterett Hall). The evening includes flamenco and taiko demos, poetry readings, and a hip-hop performance from the 13- and 14-year-old Fly Boys. The Shem Creek Boogie Band will finish things off right before fireworks over the Cooper River. Sat. May 12, 6-10 p.m. Riverfront Park. Free

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