Manifest Urban Arts Festival

If you're looking for something exciting and fun to do this Friday in Chicago, the downtown Loop has just the thing. Or three! Friday, May 13 marks the 16th annual Manifest Urban Arts Festival presented by Columbia College. It's one of the most exciting college events in the country, and is the longest-run student art festivals in Chicago. On top of that is the massive mural fest Big Walls and alley party ACTIVATE.  

Here's a quick look at Manifest by the numbers:

  • 100+ FREE public programs as part of the festival
  • 40+ musical performances from embracing a wide variety of genres
  • 15 premiere screenings of student films in many different styles
  • 20 group exhibitions with guided gallery walks and student work for sale
  • 2,000+ Columbia students submit artwork to be featured
  • 1000+ Columbia students curate and manage festival details

Manifest Urban Arts Festival

Manifest Urban Arts Festival

What else can you expect?

Fashion shows, Chicago's best food trucks, and many family-friendly activities including:

  • Zipline
  • Poster screen-printing
  • Tiny "clown bike" races
  • Medieval foam sword-fighting
  • Human-sized board games

Mural by Collin van der Sluijs | Wabash Arts Corridor

As if that wasn't enough, the largest street art festival in Chicago history, Wabash Arts Corridor Big Walls, is bringing 18 local and international artists to install 40,000+ square feet of new building murals in Chicago's South Loop. That makes the total number of installations in this art-centric district nearly 40(!) — creating an international hub for public art in Chicago.

Mural by Ricky Lee Gordon | Wabash Arts Corridor

Mural by Ruben Aguirre | Wabash Arts Corridor

These murals-in-the-making are underway from May 1-13. See these colorful creations yourself! FREE docent-led tours of the Wabash Arts Corridor will kick-off from 623 S. Wabash (1st Floor Lobby) at 11am, 3pm and 6pm on May 13 to coincide with Manifest.

What about 100 gold inflatables in an adult ball pit? This is just another element of the fun planned in the Loop for ACTIVATE. The 8th Street alley (205 E. 8th Street, between State Street and Wabash Avenue) will be transformed as part of the monthly summer series, an interactive and truly urban art experience. RSVP for FREE in advance for a complimentary drink ticket.

The popular Manifest Urban Arts Festival goes from 12-9pm on May 13. The theme for 2016 is "Animate." and Columbia College students have put together a seemingly endless amount of activities that will keep attendees busy all day. This year's festival is led by Creative Director Cassidy Kapson. The main focus of the festival is celebrating and showcasing students' final bodies of work-an essential part of preparing for creative professions. As this article just touches on the possibilities, make sure to check the Manifest Urban Arts Festival's schedule online.

Creative expression through art and embracing diverse cultures is what makes Chicago so great. Get a taste of it this Friday by checking out all three events! 

Will we be seeing you at Manifest Urban Arts Festival? What are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments!


Image credits: Columbia College/Manifest Urban Arts Festival