Southport Plein Air 2024

Peoples Choice 2023 Brian Murphy

2024 Southport Plein Air Festival

Artist Invitation

Up Your Arts and the City of Southport are looking forward to hosting the 2024 Southport Plein Air Festival again in beautiful downtown Southport, May 2-4. We leave it up to you to decide: two days of painting or three?



The 2024 Southport Plein Air Festival is open to all paint artists. It is a non-juried event, with student, merit and People’s Choice awards conferred by local judges. Winners will be registered in the 2025 Southport Plein Air Festival free of charge.

There is no limit on medium, quantity or size. Painters retain all proceeds from the sale of their work during the Wet Paint Sale.


Choose the number of days you want to paint, then register online below OR mail the registration form, along with your registration fee.

  • All canvases to be entered in the Wet Paint Sale must be stamped at check-in/registration time.
  • Welcome packets will include a map of Southport, with suggested painting spots and other points of interest.
  • Commemorative T-shirts will be available for sale throughout the festival.


Thursday, May 2nd

Painting can begin anytime after check-in/registration

  • Check in/registration from 8am-10am on the gazebo stage in Franklin Square park, 130 E. West Street
  • Happy hour from 4-6pm at American Fish Company, 150 Yacht Basin Drive – Includes one beverage ticket; advance positioning to paint the best view of Southport’s famous sunsets; proximity to waterfront restaurants; and enjoyment of live music during Up Your Arts’ Thursday Night Open Mic from 7-10pm

Paint the sunset on the water at 8:09pm on Thursday, May 18

Friday, May 3rd

Painting can begin anytime after check-in/registration

  • Check in/registration from 8am-10am on the gazebo stage in Franklin Square Park, 130 E. West Street
  • Reception for artists and guests from 4-6pm (Southport location TBD). Includes one beverage ticket, happy hour fare, and the opportunity to meet and mingle with fellow artists. Check-in registration continues.

Saturday, May 4th

Activity base from 8am-6pm at Franklin Square Park, 130 E. West Street:

  • Kids’ Plein Air & Fiber Art Demonstrations from 10am-2pm
  • Drum Circle and Festival Entertainment from 10am-3pm
  • Food Trucks all day
  • Wet Paint Sale from 4-6pm (artist setup starts at 3pm, closed to the public)
  • Awards ceremony - Merit, Student and People’s Choice awards announced at 5 pm


Note: This is last year's map. We will update it as soon as the new map is done!

Welcome! Up Your Arts is looking forward to hosting you soon at the 2023 Southport Plein Air Festival. You are among a group of 75 other registered artists from six different states, some who have participated in previous festivals, some who are brand new to our kind of laid-back experience. Either way, we aim to make this as easy as possible for you to relax and enjoy.

We have prepared a list of frequently asked questions below that may help you navigate the event:

Bring your blank canvasses to Franklin Square Park at 130 E. West Street (corner of Howe and E. West streets) from 8-10am on Thursday or Friday, May 18 and 19. Plein Air committee members will be set up in the gazebo stage in the middle of the park. Restrooms are nearby.

You can find the full artist schedule of events in the Artist invitation tab above.

3-Day Painters Welcome

For those of you who have signed up to paint three days, we hope you will have a beer or a glass of wine on us Thursday afternoon from 4-6pm at American Fish Company (AFCO on the map). The 2023 Southport Plein Air Committee will be on hand to answer questions, suggest activities for your non-painting companions, and give you tips to navigate Southport’s bustling tourist trade.

You are invited to stay and paint what promises to be the most beautiful sunset this side of paradise from AFCO’s deck and listen to an evening of music at our weekly Open Mic Night. Up Your Arts is so proud to celebrate the incredible range of musical talent that thrives here from 7-10pm every Thursday from April to November in partnership with AFCO. You won’t want to miss.

Artist Reception

The following afternoon, we are celebrating all of you at Frying Pan Restaurant next door (FP on the map). Please feel free to bring guests to a reception in your honor from 4-6pm Friday to meet the other artists, the judges, and other local dignitaries, as well as Up Your Arts’ volunteer board of directors and members of the Plein Air committee,  who have been planning all year for your arrival.

Frying Pan has reserved its popular lower deck for this occasion and will be serving a selection of signature appetizers. We will also provide two complementary beer/wine/soda tickets at check in for this meet-and-greet, but you are free to order cocktails separately, if so desired.

No, “canvasses” include whatever surface you would like to paint on, i.e., canvas, paper, panels, or boards.

Have more stamped at any of the other scheduled check-in times:

  • Thursday, May 18, 4-6pm in front of American Fish Company, 150 Yacht Basin Drive, where you can use your happy hour tickets
  • Friday, May 19, 4-6pm at Frying Pan Restaurant, 319 W. Bay Street, concurrent with the reception for artists and guests
  • Saturday, May 20, all day at the Up Your Arts tent in Franklin Square Park

No. Only canvasses stamped with the dates May 18 - May 20, 2023, can be displayed or sold at the Wet Paint Sale. Older date stamps may be in evidence, but the current stamp is required.

  • The Wet Paint Sale will be held in designated areas of Franklin Square Park at 4pm on Saturday, May 20. You can begin setting up at 3pm, when the park is closed to the public for
    one hour to facilitate your set-up process.The loading and unloading zone will be marked by cones on E. West Street, near the Franklin Square Gallery parking lot. Plein Air committee members will be on hand to help unload and transport your equipment and paintings. You can then park your car nearby. There will be food trucks set up (seafood, hot dogs, and ice cream) and we will have water for you.
  • The best displays are easels, either full height or table top. We will also have a few stands from which to hang your paintings, some benches to prop them up, and walls to hang them from. We will have some easels and tables available to you on a first-come, first-served basis, but the best way to ensure appropriate display of your work is to bring your own.

No. All painters will be setting up at the same time, beginning at 3pm.

Yes. You set the price and decide how to display it on your artwork. You will need to have your own credit card processing device, or accept only cash or checks, your preference. There is an ATM machine across the street.

  • Clothing appropriate for rain/shine/hot/cold, also bug spray and an umbrella
  • Business cards and monetary transaction capability, including a wifi hotspot
  • Easels, tables, etc., to display your artwork

A map (above) in your registration bag will have scenic landmarks noted, and restroom and ATM locations. We will also give you a list of sheltered places to paint, in case of rain, and information about parking

2023 Southport Plein Air Festival Approved Rain-Sheltered Painting Locations:

  • North Carolina Maritime Musuem at Southport porches - 204 E. Moore Street
  • Southport Community Building porches and back deck – 223 E. Bay Street (accessible without stairs from E. Moore Street, next door to the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport)
  • Franklin Square Park gazebo – 130 E. West Street (same place as Thursday and Friday mornings’ registration/check in)
  • Salt Marsh Boardwalk and Waterway gazebo - W. Brunswick Street (near Southport Marina)
  • Public parks at various locations:
    • A.C. Caviness Park – North Caswell and Clarendon avenues (picnic shelter)
    • Keziah Memorial Park – W. Moore and N. Lord streets (gazebo)
    • Lowe-White Memorial Park – E. Leonard and N. Atlantic streets (thick tree canopies)
    • Waterfront Park – E. Moore and S. Howe streets (picnic shelters)
  • American Fish Company, 150 Yacht Basin Drive, welcomes you to paint from its deck, as may other open-air restaurants and bars on the waterfront, upon request.

Public restrooms are located at 107 E. Nash Street and behind the Ft. Johnston-Southport Museum and Visitors’ Center at 203 E. Bay Street.

Public Parking Areas:

  • Waterfront Park* on the Cape Fear River at the base of Howe Street
  • Bay Street from S. Howe to S. Atlantic streets
  • Howe Street from Bay to 8th streets
  • Moore Street from W. Lord to Davis streets
  • Moore Street in front of the Southport Community Building
  • Nash Street behind the Old Brunswick County Courthouse/former Southport City Hall
  • E. Nash Street block in front of the US Post Office, both sides
  • W. Nash Street between Lord and Howe streets
  • W. West Street Between Lord and Howe streets
  • The block formed by Caswell Avenue, Bay Street, Yacht Basin Drive, and Moore Street near the Yacht Basin (four-hour limit)
  • Taylor Field Park* at the end of E. Nash Street
  • A.C. Caviness Park at N. Caswell and Clarendon avenues
  • Lowe-White Memorial Park at E. Leonard and N. Atlantic streets

Public Rights of Way:

  • Base of the Water Tower* off Howe Street
  • W. Brown Street between Lord and Howe streets
  • Rhett Street at the Old Smithfield Burying Ground*
  • Gravel drive for the pond* at the west end of St. George Street

Non-public Approved Parking Areas:

  • Southport Marina* at the end of W. West Street

*Landmarks on the above list are noted on the map included with check-in material. Other landmarks can be Googled by name.

Please text or call Bonnie Bray at 301.741.6698 or Marty Dorward at 415.531.7134, if you need help with anything that is not an emergency. Southport police and fire officers will respond to 911 emergency calls.

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