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Highway 30-A Arts: The Heart and Soul of South Walton

by Chris Chatelain on April 28th, 2017

Digitally projected woman's face at Digital Graffiti in Alys Beach for Highway 30-A arts blog


While scenic Highway 30-A might be best known for its lush landscapes and tropical tranquillity, this renowned stretch of Gulfside road is also dotted with galleries displaying local and regional artwork. From beach paintings to driftwood furniture and seashell picture frames, these South Walton communities offer something just about everyone will love. Plan some time on your next 30-A vacation to browse the galleries. Even better, plan a stay during one of the many art festivals that take place throughout the year. Following are some of the most popular on the Highway 30-A arts scene.

Art in the Park

WaterColor’s Cerulean Park and Town Center are the settings every spring for Art in the Park. Usually held in March, around Spring Break, this popular arts festival has been drawing visitors, as well as both local and regional artists, to the area for more than 10 years.

Although it’s not a juried show, Art in the Park consistently features high-quality work in a variety of mediums. These include oil, acrylics, watercolors, charcoal, pastels, photography, prints, glass, jewelry, fabric, pottery, wood, and mixed media. The day-long show also features plenty of food and drink and live entertainment. The show is open to the public, and admission is free.

Display of hand-sewn clothing at ArtsQuest

Display of hand-sewn clothing at ArtsQuest


ArtsQuest Fine Arts Festival is held each spring — typically around Mother’s Day weekend — in South Walton. Produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, it’s presented by Grand Boulevard at Sandestin and Visit South Walton. ArtsQuest 2017 is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, May 13-14, at Sandestin’s Grand Boulevard.

A juried show, ArtsQuest will feature the works of more than 200 artists working in a wide range of mediums.  These include ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, metals, mixed media, oils and acrylics, digital art, photography, sculpture, wood, and works on paper (watercolor, prints, pastels, pencils, and ink). Artists compete for $10,000 in cash prizes. Patrons will also enjoy hands-on art demos, tasty treats, live music daily on the Grand Park Stage, and kids’ entertainment on the ImagiNation Stage. It’s a perfect way for the whole family to spend an entire day together. ArtsQuest is a rain-or-shine event.

Digital Graffiti 

Early summer is when the graffiti artists come out in Alys Beach — Digital Graffiti artists, that is. Something you have to see for yourself to truly understand, Digital Graffiti is produced using digital technologies – projectors and laptops – to shine original artwork onto skyscrapers and other urban buildings. At Alys Beach, the white walls serve as the canvases, and the town literally becomes a living piece of art that visitors can view from its lawns, courtyards and walkways. Last year’s festival featured 26 artists from around the world, and winners were awarded $10,000 in prizes.

The 10th annual Digital Graffiti projection art festival returns to Caliza and other spots around Alys Beach on Friday, May 19, 2017. The festival, which continues on Saturday and Sunday, will again feature $10,000 in cash prizes. As the sun goes down on Friday, the lights come up on a celebration that includes music, food, drink, and lots of fun for all ages. Also on Friday, visitors are invited to tune in to the official Digital Graffiti app for a self-guided tour with curator Brett Phares. Saturday’s activities include more food and drink – samples by local and regional chefs, winemakers, distillers, and brewers. The evening ends with another party – desserts, drinks, and art discussions around the pool at Caliza restaurant. The festival closes on Sunday with mimosas and brunch fare, giving guests, artists, and judges another opportunity to mingle at Arboleda Park and discuss the artwork.

Little girl in pink tunic, black leggings, and posterboard butterfly wings at Fluttery Festival in Rosemary Beach for Highway 30-A arts blog

In honor of the butterfly at Flutterby Festival

30-A First Friday Art Walk

Several Highway 30-A communities have embraced the idea of creating a festival-type atmosphere for the first Friday of each month. On that day, many galleries and shops in Rosemary Beach, Seacrest, Seagrove, Seaside, WaterColor, Grayton Beach, Gulf Place, and Santa Rosa Beach stay open until about 8 p.m. On display are oil paintings, watercolors, pottery, glassware, and photography. Guests enjoy refreshments and live music, meet the artists, and even get a lesson or two. (It’s a good idea to call ahead, however, because some establishments only participate seasonally.)

Flutterby Festival 

The arrival of fall and the arrival of the beautiful monarch butterfly go hand in hand along Highway 30-A, and Rosemary Beach throws a party each year to celebrate this event. Called the Flutterby Festival, this November celebration, held on East Long Green, includes arts and crafts exhibits, live music, tasty food, dance performances, and even a butterfly parade. And yes, you can bet on there being a few dozen pieces of art dedicated to the majestic monarch butterfly available for purchase. Admission is free.

More Things To Know

Keep in mind that these are but a few of the regular arts events held in the eclectic artists’ colonies lining the Highway 30-A coastline. Check our Highway 30a events calendar regularly for updates and more information. There are also dozens of galleries within each community on this scenic stretch of highway that are open every day for you to enjoy — and they run the gamut, just as the festivals do. So the next time you book a 30a beach vacation rental for the stunning natural beauty, don’t forget to take in some of the art on display as well.


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