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Eureka Springs: Arkansas’ art haven

Courtesy Eureka Springs A&P Commission

Inspiration awaits in delightful Eureka Springs

LOCATION | Eureka Springs is located in the northwest corner of Arkansas. Driving on a coach, it’s approximately one hour from the Fayetteville/Bentonville area; one hour from Branson, Missouri; and a little over three hours from Little Rock, the state capital.

SIZE | Eureka Springs has a population of approximately 2,300.

Eureka Springs
— Golden era and art —

Eureka Springs is home to more than 350 working artists, building its reputation as one of America’s top art destinations. Eureka Springs’ growing arts district makes a great destination for the art enthusiast. With no big-box stores or malls, the shops and galleries offer guests shopping opportunities not found anyplace else. The entire downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, making Eureka Springs one of the last remaining Victorian-era cities in the nation. The town is bordered by scenic rivers and lakes and surrounded by the Ozark Mountains.

Eureka Springs
— Acting out your faith —

The New Great Passion Play begins its 46th year in 2012. This reenactment of Jesus’ life during his last week on earth is performed from May through October every year. From Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem through the Resurrection, the New Great Passion Play has more than 250 actors and live animals. Along with the play, groups can enjoy the Bible Museum, which offers a guided tour of more than 100 bibles from around the world.

Bank groups can also enjoy an amazing collection of religious art in the Sacred Arts Center and a tour through the Living Bible Stories, where costumed actors portray poignant Bible stories. And before the play, don’t miss dinner and a gospel show at the Top of the Mountain Dinner Theatre.

Thorncrown Chapel is a creation of world-renowned architect E. Fay Jones. The chapel, atop a forested Ozark mountain on more than 100 tons of native stone and colored flagstone, is 48 feet tall and features 425 windows and more than 6,000 square feet of glass. The building was named one of the top architectural achievements of the 20th century by the American Institute of Architecture and was recently named one of the finest religious spaces in the world.

Eureka Springs
— King cake and folk art —

Eureka Springs has a parade almost every month of the year.

The Mardi Gras Festival begins with the King’s Day party in early January. It is followed in February by the Hooker and Jokers Ball, the Coronation Masquerade Ball, the parade, the Champagne Jazz Brunch, the Arti Gras Artist’s Showcase, the Second Line Pub Krawl and, finally, on Fat Tuesday, the King Cake Ball and Dinner.

The month of May is dedicated to the May Festival of the Arts, where art in all its forms is featured with dozens of exhibits, receptions, workshops and demonstrations. The celebration kicks off on the first Saturday with the ARTragious parade and continues with evening gallery strolls downtown honoring local and regional artists. On the third Friday night of May, the annual White Street Studio Walk takes place. Historic White Street is the working address of several local artists who welcome the public into homes and studios to view their latest works.

Enjoy Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point in June and July. This training program and festival, affiliated with the National Federation of Music Clubs, has earned the reputation of being a prominent training program for singers pursuing careers in opera.

Eureka Springs plays host to an array of automobile shows during the year. From classic street rods to Corvettes, Ferraris, Volkswagens, Mustangs, Miatas and Mini Coopers, every club gets its own parade. The annual Antique Automobile Festival, the second weekend of September, includes a local cast of costumed characters who reenact the Eureka Springs bank robbery of 1922.

The longest-running folk festival in one location in the United States, the Original Ozark Folk Festival happens during the last weekend of October. Named one of the American Bus Association’s Top 100 Events, the festival offers music, crafts, the Folk Festival Queen contest and, of course, a parade.