• Rosa Sprinkle

Moonlight on Main— 3 weekends of Moon Magic in Downtown Belmont

If you’ve ever stared up at the full moon and wished it was just a bit closer, a bit clearer, so you could get a good look at its mountains, its craters, its maria, Belmont is giving you the opportunity this month. During Moonlight on Main, the internationally renowned Museum of the Moon will be on display in Stowe Park for three consecutive weekends in October and November. Bring chairs or blankets, spread out, and marvel at this unique touring exhibition.

Museum of the Moon was created by UK artist Luke Jerram. Made using high resolution NASA imagery of the lunar surface, the 23 foot diameter, internally lit sphere allows viewers to gaze at the full moon in a way they never have before. During the weekends of October 22-24, 29-31, and November 4-7, people of all ages will be able to play, sit, and lie under the moon as it hangs just out of reach among the trees surrounding Stowe Park amphitheater.

Photo Courtesy of @belmontmainstreet_dbda

Procuring the exhibit was the brainchild of Phil Boggan, Downtown Director of the City of Belmont. He first heard of the Museum of the Moon in 2019 and thought it would tie in well with the Main Street program and Downtown Belmont Development Association’s work on growing the arts and cultural industries in Belmont. The Main Street program is accredited by the state and one of its goals is to bring economic vitality to downtown through an infusion of arts. When Boggan contacted artist Jerram’s studio two years ago, he learned that the exhibit was completely booked up.

In early 2021, not knowing what the future would hold for events in downtown due to COVID, Boggan and Cassidy Lackey, Community Development Coordinator for the City of Belmont, began looking for safe, outdoor events they could plan for the fall. The idea of something thematic to go along with Belmont’s annual Halloween Boo Fest began to form. Boggan remembered the Museum of the Moon and reached back out to Jerram’s studio to see if it was still traveling and if there was availability. Because most organizations exhibit the Moon indoors, many had to cancel their plans due to COVID restrictions. Belmont’s plan was always to have the Moon displayed outside, so Boggan and Lackey were able to secure it for the fall dates.

Photo Courtesy of @belmontmainstreet_dbda

Once the Museum dates were booked, The City of Belmont team began to brainstorm. They wanted to provide, not just an exhibit, but an entire EXPERIENCE. A series of events that would appeal to people of all ages and also be a cultural, educational, and economic driver for local artists, residents, and downtown businesses. The Museum of the Moon may take center stage, but Moonlight on Main is not limited to the Museum or Stowe Park.

Public Art

From October 21 to November 7, downtown Belmont will be transformed into a lunar-themed outdoor gallery with arts, lights, tours, and cultural programming. The City of Belmont put out a call for area artists to submit works with a celestial or local geographical theme. They received 77 submissions and narrowed the field to 24 pieces. Selections have been turned into GOBO artworks that will be projected onto sides of buildings throughout downtown.

Photo Courtesy of @belmont_nc_happenings

Starting Opening Night, in which artists will be present at various locations downtown to speak about their pieces, and every evening for three weeks, visitors can use the Belmont Go app to receive free maps, guides and take walking tours of the outdoor art gallery. Art installations from local students and groups will be featured throughout Stowe Park as well. Original artwork used to create the GOBO projections will be on view and available for purchase at multiple downtown businesses doubling as art galleries during the Moonlight on Main three-week event.

Music and Shows

Boggan, Lackey and the entire team planning Moonlight on Main knew that the full moon would set the perfect atmosphere to enjoy live music and shows at Stowe Park amphitheater. They wanted there to be something for everyone, so they’ve scheduled performances of eclectic genres to appeal to a multitude of tastes. Over three weeks, there will be jazz, rock, retrospective, Broadway, cabaret and even a drum circle in the band shell.

For the Kids

The catalyst for scheduling the Museum of the Moon in October was to pair it with Belmont’s annual Boo Fest. Children and adults will enjoy music, costume contests, carnival rides, games, vendors, and more, all under the enchanting full moon. And if kids fall in love with the celestial orb, they can learn more about it during the Moon Educational Program presented by The Schiele Museum. Science, experiments, and hands-on activities will engage kids’ minds and imaginations, and adults may just learn something new as well.

But wait! There’s more!

Many downtown businesses are joining in on the lunar-inspired fun! As the sun sets, businesses up and down Main St. have been given special LEDs in order to cast the town in a pale blue glow. Multiple restaurants have created themed specials and features, which will be especially fun to experience during the Halloween Bar Crawl. Belmont Yoga will hold several sessions of Morning Moon Yoga in the amphitheater. And dog-lovers have an event all to themselves in Howl at the Moon. No word yet on a werewolf flashmob planned for Halloween night, but organizers may be keeping that a secret...

Photo Courtesy of @discoverbelmont

There’s a lot going on during Moonlight on Main, but there’s no reason to ever feel overwhelmed. Organizers have provided an interactive parking map on the website, along with links to help you plan your visit. The handy Belmont Go app will guide you through town once you’re there, and if you ever have questions or need to buy tickets, there will be several information stations around Stowe Park with representatives available to direct you.

Whatever your age, interests, tastes, or species (looking at you werewolves), Moonlight on Main is sure to offer an experience you won’t want to miss.