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Thousands heading to Festival of the Arts for hundreds of displays

Event will feature art exhibits, artisan crafts, children's activities, food and drinks

University Avenue will transform into a center for arts and crafts, mesmerizing chalk art displays, piano virtuosos radiating their music and more at the 37th Palo Alto Festival of the Arts this weekend.

The annual festival, hosted by the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, attracts as many as 150,000 visitors and 300 fine artists and crafters to downtown from both nearby areas and from out of state. The free event will take place Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days.

Hundreds of artists' display booths (often rare works) will line the street back to back, and the family-friendly event will include a Kids' Art Studio, a children's arts and crafts station with ceramics, painting and face art, organized by the Palo Alto Parents and Professionals for Art.

Of the most anticipated displays is the Chopin and Chandeliers, which combine visual art with music for an enhanced experience. This year, the interactive work will feature a colorful display of chandeliers crafted from discarded plastic bottles, with pianists entertaining audiences on the street.

Another popular area every year is the Italian chalk art display, where artists from the Italian Street Painting Expo create vibrant, large works of art on asphalt canvases that measure up to 12 feet by 12 feet. Some artists will use "anamorphic" styles, in which the artwork appears 3D from a distance or through the camera lens, which is guaranteed to spark awe on any Instagram feed.

Across from the chalk displays along Tasso Street, the Palo Alto Weekly, a sponsor of the festival, will have giveaways at its booth.

Food and drinks will be available through a number of food vendors, and the Kiwanis Club of Palo Alto will serve microbrews and fine wines throughout the festival.

Artists' areas of expertise vary from ceramics to wood to leather, with many specializing in artisan works for the home. Learn more about a few of this year's featured artists here.

Due to the scale of the event, significant delays are expected in and around downtown, according to Palo Alto police. University Avenue, between High Street and Webster Street, will be closed from the early hours of Saturday to 11 p.m. on Sunday.

During the same hours, streets running north and south in between Hamilton Avenue and Lytton Avenue will also be closed. Cowper and Emerson streets, however, will open during overnight hours on Saturday night to let north-south traffic pass through.

University Avenue will be cleared of any equipment associated with the city's Upgrade Downtown project, which has blocked access to certain segments of the street to update traffic signals and utilities in recent months.

Although free parking will be available within a block or two of the festival site, the Chamber of Commerce encourages attendees to use public transit or bike to the event. Attendees are also encouraged to bring a tote bag since the city prohibits use of plastic and paper bags for carrying purchased merchandise.

For more information, go to mlaproductions.com.

Are you attending the festival? Share your photos and videos by tagging us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Your post could be featured in our social media collection!

Related content:

• View our Storify page for social media posts from the festival in 2017, 2016 and 2015.

Photo gallery: Palo Alto Festival of the Arts

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