Arts & Culture in Elizabeth City, NC

From live performances and special events to museums and historical destinations, arts and culture are celebrated.

On Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 06:00
The Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City, NC

Live performances, special events, museums and historical destinations contribute to Elizabeth City's arts scene and make the area a top spot for culture and entertainment.

Arts in Elizabeth City

In 2009, the old Lowry-Chesson Building, once an opera house and then a flagship department store, was brought once again to life. It is now known as the Arts of the Albemarle Center, commonly called The Center. Home to the Jaquelin Jenkins Gallery, the Maguire Theatre and the School of the Arts, The Center has become a cultural hub in Elizabeth City. The Center also lays claim to The Center Players, a program that teaches children ages 8 to 18 to dance, sing and act. In January 2017, The Center Players took home national awards at the iTheatrics Junior Theater Festival in Atlanta, Georgia and was one of five educational musical theater groups across the U.S. to perform as part of the New Works Showcase for the festival's 6,000 attendees.

The Encore Theatre Company has been a mainstay of the arts community in Elizabeth City for 20 years. Performances are held at the Maguire Theatre inside Arts of the Albemarle. Encore’s season runs from November to May, during which the troupe stages three shows, including musicals, comedies and dramas.

Another favorite Elizabeth City attraction is Port Discover, a hands-on science center situated downtown. Designed with families and kids in mind, Port Discover has several interactive exhibits and offers science-focused programming for all ages. The center also participates in the H.A.S. (History, Art and Science) IT Field Trip Tour, a collaborative program between Port Discover, Museum of the Albemarle and Arts of the Albemarle in which students rotate between each facility and engage in educational programs that feature each element.

Elizabeth City Historical Attractions

Visit the Museum of the Albemarle for a sampling of local history. Located near the waterfront, the 50,000-square-foot museum contains both long-term and changing exhibits showcasing more than 700 artifacts reflecting the history and culture of the region.

The museum regularly holds free events and lectures that provide hands-on opportunities to learn about music, history, art and more.

Walking tours provide a different approach to taking in local history. Pick up the Elizabeth City Historic Walking Tour guidebook and stroll through the historic Main Street commercial district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Festivals and Events

Elizabeth City is home to a variety of events and festivals that stimulate the senses and the palate. The North Carolina Potato Festival each May features a variety of activities and, of course, potatoes. Get free French fries, and snack on funnel cakes, hot dogs and much more. Visitors can enjoy amusement rides, potato sack races, a street fair and a street dance.

The community's Juneteenth Celebration takes place each June in Waterfront Park and features speakers, entertainment, food, games and a pageant for young girls, while the Mariners' Wharf Film Festival, which also takes place on the waterfront, gives residents the opportunity to view classic American films for nine consecutive Tuesday nights from early June to late July.

In October, the Historic Ghost Walk gives attendees a glimpse into the community's past, with stops at destinations like the Episcopal Cemetery – the city's oldest active burying ground – and the New Fowler Store, constructed between 1896 and 1902.

In addition, many Elizabeth City residents enjoy First Friday ArtWalk events, held on the first Friday of each month. During each event, several downtown art studios and businesses are open from 5:30 p.m. until at least 7 p.m., giving attendees the chance to admire some of the community's most impressive works of art.

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