Art will rule downtown this weekend during Bellevue's annual arts festival, the city's most popular summertime event.
Attendance often tops 300,000 people for the free event and visitors are urged to take buses downtown to minimize traffic complications caused by big crowds and street closures.
Buses can take visitors to the Bellevue Transit Center downtown from four area park-and-rides: South Bellevue (2700 Bellevue Way SE), Eastgate (14200 SE Eastgate Way), South Kirkland (10610 NE 38th Pl.) and Kingsgate (1300 116th Way NE). King County Metro and Sound Transit have routes and schedules.
A total of 635 artists are slated to exhibit their creations at this year's festival, which runs from Friday, July 23, to Sunday, July 25. The festival features three separate happenings: the 64th annual Bellevue Arts Museum artsfair at Bellevue Square, the 6th Street Fair at Sixth and 106th Avenue and the Bellevue Festival of the Arts at Cost Plus World Market, 10300 NE Eighth St.
The BAM artsfair is from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The other two fairs are from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Visitors can expect to see a smorgasbord of booths featuring all manner of arts and crafts for sale, including painting, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, photography, glasswork and textiles. Juries selected the art to be presented at the fairs.
In addition to artists' booths, BAM's "kidsfair" offers hands-on art activities, and "Chalk It Up!" provides an outdoor, concrete canvas for big and small children. Food and live music are also available at the fairs.
With some downtown streets shut down for the festival, travelers should expect some congestion. Street closure locations and times include:
- 100th Avenue Northeast, from Northeast Eighth Street to Northeast 10th Street, will be closed in the southbound direction from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
- 102nd Avenue Northeast, from Northeast Eighth Street to Northeast 10th Street, will be closed in both directions from 7 a.m. Friday to 11 p.m. Sunday.
- 106th Avenue Northeast, from Northeast Fourth Street to Northeast Sixth Street, will be closed in both directions from 6 p.m. Thursday to 11 p.m. Sunday.
- Northeast Sixth Street, from Bellevue Way to 106th Avenue Northeast, will be closed in both directions from 6 p.m. Thursday to 11 p.m. Sunday.
- Northeast 10th Street, from 106th Avenue Northeast to 108th Avenue Northeast, will be closed in the westbound direction from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday.
King County Metro Transit and Sound Transit have several bus routes that serve downtown, and the Bellevue Transit Center is a close walk to the festival. Be sure to check weekend schedules for Saturday-Sunday routes and be aware there could be some short detours to avoid closed streets. For additional travel alternatives, check Choose Your Way Bellevue, a one-stop source for travel options in Bellevue.
Downtown visitors to the arts festival can also enjoy this year's Bellevue Sculpture Exhibition, renamed "Bellwether 2010: Art Walk Bellevue," one of the region’s premier art events. Installations are on display at City Hall, Downtown Park, The Galleria and in the parking lot at 500 Bellevue Way Northeast.
The Bellwether exhibition runs through Oct. 17.
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