SPARKcon will return September 20-23, 2018. We'll crank up open planning meetings at the start of the new year! Real time updates, events and info will be posted on our page!  

SPARKcon 12 rocked for so many reasons! We had a record breaking attendance of over 80,000 people - artists, volunteers, participants, and observers throughout the four-day festival weekend.

SPARKcon continues to grow and highlight the Triangle's creative community because of over 200 committed volunteers. As we look back on this year and eagerly wait for what's to come in 2018, we'll continue to stay true to our roots as a non-commercial event. We welcome non-agenda seeking programming ideas that help to highlight a creative SPARK!   

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Here is the 2017 SPARKcon map. More than likely this will change for the 2018 event but this will give you a sense of what happens where! 


SPARKcon is a mult-day, multi-discipline, multi-venue festival that takes over 1.9 million square feet of Downtown Raleigh to showcase over 2,000 artists in 200 events the third weekend of each September. You can see a full list of SPARKcon events here. The festival's creative programming is divided into 14 "SPARK" categories: artSPARK, fashionSPARK, geekSPARK, danceSPARK, and so forth. Check out all of the SPARKs and see lists of events in their category here. SPARKcon is a completely FREE event. SPARKcon's open-air footprint is alcohol free.


The Moore Square Bus Station is located at 214 S Blount Street, 1.5 blocks from the heart of SPARKcon. View all bus routes, rates, and accommodations here.

STREET PARKING surrounding the footprint of SPARKcon is free on both Saturday and Sunday. Street parking is available on Friday, just be sure to pay your meter! The parking meter does have a “Handicapped Parking Option” which allows visitors displaying a handicapped placard or license plate. There is no time limit on a Handicapped Payment, so there is no need to move your car again, although you do still have to pay $1 per hour of parking. View parking and payment instructions here.

PARKING DECKS are available all three days, although parking fees may vary. See all available parking decks in Downtown Raleigh. Decks closest to the SPARKcon footprint include: Alexander SquareCharter SquareHannoverConvention Center UndergroundMoore Square Decks!

View all parking options on the City of Raleigh's website. Consider parking away from the SPARKcon footprint and utilizing Raleigh's FREE R-Line to get around downtown and to the festival.

Hotels are readily available in Downtown Raleigh, many of which are located on or within blocks of the festival. See a full list hotels in downtown here!

Fayetteville Street and the first block of all side streets will be blocked off for the festival. Wilmington and Salisbury Streets will remain open. The South end of Fayetteville street is open for drop-off at the Marriott, there is a traffic director posted at the intersection of Fayetteville and W Lenoir StR\reet. Drop-off is also available at parking spots along Morgan Street where it intersects the North end of Fayetteville Street at the State Capitol Building. The closest intersection to the Information Tent is at Salisbury and W Martin Street near Capital Club 16.


SPARKcon celebrates creativity AND accessibility! All SPARKcon events are free and open to everyone. Many of the events happening over the weekend are physically and programmatically accessible.

Contact our Access Coordinator, Deja Barber:

We want to insure you have the best SPARKcon experience possible - fill out this online form to request additional accommodations.  We will do our best to respond to any request, but making your accommodation request more than 5 days before the start of the festival helps us to insure we provide the best accommodation possible.

The accessSPARK Guide is designed to help visitors get the most out of their SPARKcon experience. The guide points to events happening over the course of the weekend that are especially accessible but does not cover all of the exciting activities SPARKcon has to offer. The guide categorizes events by whether they happen indoors or outdoors, have visual or auditory components, are loud or quiet, tactile, and kid friendly! Click here to download a copy of the access SPARKcon guide to plan your visit!

Service dogs or miniature horses that are individually trained to work or perform tasks are welcome at SPARKcon and at all venue partners. See our Pets at SPARKcon guidelines below for information about non-service animals.

SPARKcon partnered with Arts Access to create the original accessSPARK Guide in 2014, and their guidance has been invaluable! Arts Access is a Raleigh-based non-profit focused on making the arts accessible to people with disabilities.


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SPARKcon is excited to offer a new independent wayfinding and navigation option for SPARKcon visitors. Simply download the BlindSquare Event app for free on any iPhone, and once you have entered the SPARKcon festival footprint audio navigation will begin. The BlindSquare software is currently only available for iPhones. While this wayfinding technology was built for people with low vision or who are blind, it will be useful for any visitor navigating SPARKcon's active and creative footprint. This audio guide is made possible through a partnership with BlindSquare and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science.


Downtown Raleigh offers so much! Support our local businesses while you're out enjoying SPARKcon weekend. Grab a drink! Grab a bite to eat! Do some shopping! Check out other cultural art opportunities! And go out after SPARKcon activities end at 11pm!


SPARKcon not your thing? We get it! But don't avoid all of Downtown Raleigh just because we have closed a few streets. There are so many great things to do in downtown during SPARKcon weekend. SPARKcon programming closes Fayetteville Street and the first block East and West of all side streets. You can skirt the festival's perimeter by using Morgan Street (E/W), Lenoir Street (E/W), Wilmington Street (N), or Salisbury Street (S), all other downtown streets will be open to traffic. See many of the great restaurants, shops, and bars located on and off SPARKcon's footprint on the Downtown Raleigh Alliance's website. See all downtown parking options here. Consider parking away from the SPARKcon footprint and taking the FREE R-Line around the festival's perimeter and to other fun parts of downtown!


A great place to start your SPARKcon experience is at the Information Tent, in the intersection of Martin and Fayetteville Streets. There you can pick up a full schedule of weekend events,  a printed version of the accessSPARK Guide, and ask friendly helpers any questions you might have about the weekend!

Over half of the events taking place at SPARKcon are on the street level with the roads closed off to motor vehicles starting Friday morning. While this means that some areas of the streets and sidewalks can get crowded, all street-level activities are physically accessible. Do note that some streets have a slight uphill pitch to them, especially the side streets: Martin, Davie, and Hargett. Street Painting provides a great connector between events, even if they happen to take place three blocks apart. In the evenings Raleigh’s team of rickshaw drivers can be a great option for moving from one event to another in a cost-effective way.

Street-level, accessible restrooms (portable toilets) are located on W Hargett and W Davie Streets. Many of the indoor venues have their own accessible restrooms located within the facility.

The Red Cross is on site to assist with any first aid needs you may have. They are located at the intersection of Martin and Fayetteville Streets, inside the Information Tent.

SPARKcon has many precautions put in place to prevent but also help in the case of an emergency.
If you need assistance please look for one of these people:
> SPARKcon leadership wearing safety orange t-shirts
> Police officers hired to work at SPARKcon
> Safety staff wearing yellow shirts
> Volunteers and Red Cross workers in the Information Tent at the intersection of Fayetteville and Martin streets.
Call 911 if you need immediate assistance for an emergency.


As hard as we try to make all of SPARKcon’s 200+ events as accessible as possible there are some venues with accessibility challenges. Programming happening upstairs at Trophy Tap + Table and Kings are only physically accessible by utilizing a flight of stairs. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Bittersweet - 919.977.3829
Berkeley Cafe - 919.828.9190
Cirque de Vol Studio - 919.615.2484
City of Raleigh Museum - 919.996.2220
Crank Arm Brewery - 919.324.3529
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts / Lichtin Plaza - 919.996.8700
Imurj - 919.825.1515
Industrious - 347.927.7388
Kings - 919.833.1091
London Bridge Pub – 919.838.6633
The Mahler Fine Art - 919.896.7503
NC Museum of History - 919.807.7900
Neptunes - 919.896.7063
Oak + Dagger Public House - 919.945.9382
The R-Line - 919.485.7433
Read With Me - 919.588.3183
Red Hat Annex - 919.754.3700
Ruby Deluxe - 919.666.6969
Trophy Tap + Table - 919.424.7817
VAE Raleigh - 919.256.6856
Watts + Ward - 919.896.8016


SPARKcon's open air footprint is public space. Pets who are comfortable with large crowds and loud noises are welcome to attend the festival. Pets are not allowed in SPARKcon's indoor venues.


VAE works hard to make all of its programming accessible to everyone! If you have additional questions, comments or would like to join the general conversation about accessibility in the arts, email Brandon or call 919.256.6856.