The Bright Walls Grand Finale is almost here, and it is one of our favorite festivals to attend. This year, the festival runs from September 8-11 and will feature 30+ artists who will be painting murals in Downtown Jackson. There will also be live music, food trucks, and many other events. We know there will be BIG crowds after a two-year delay for the finale, so we wanted to share our favorite tips and tricks for attending Bright Walls with kids. 

Attending Bright Walls With Kids

Tip Number One

Head Downtown in the morning on festival days to beat the crowds.

Crowds and kids aren’t always the best combination, so we love heading downtown in the mornings on festival days. Visiting during less-crowded morning times will also mean more space to navigate strollers, cooler temperatures, and the chance to get a little closer to the roped-off areas. Artists often arrive early to get started and continue painting on and off all day long. As always, watching the artists at work is a free activity. (Please note – the food trucks will not be open during morning times – but many of the downtown restaurants will!)

Tip Number Two

Many of the 2022 artists have already started to paint – head downtown stat!

Did you know that many of the 2022 artists have already arrived (or will arrive soon) in Jackson? Most start working as soon as they arrive since they are painting massive walls. This early start provides the perfect opportunity for spectators to watch them work before the festival crowds arrive! We have gone numerous times to watch the preview artist, Michelle Hoogveld, paint, and we have been the only spectators there. Grab some snacks, and head downtown this weekend to see what you can find!

Tip Number Three

Fortress Cafe will be open during the festival and has public restrooms.

As the mother of a recently potty-trained toddler, the thought of relying on port-a-potties during Bright Walls is terrifying. Fortress Cafe’ to the rescue! Fortress Cafe’ (located in front of Lean Rocket Lab) will be open all weekend during the festival, and they have given us the go-ahead to let you know about their very clean and functioning public restrooms! Now that is music to this mother’s ears. Thank you, Fortress Cafe’Sidenote: This is an excellent place to get coffee and light eats!

Attending Bright Walls With Kids

Tip Number Four

Attend Bright Walls Sunday Funday and other family-friendly events

We connected with Bright Walls Team Member, Leslie McAndrews, to get the inside scoop on the kid-friendly events that are happening at Bright Walls this year! Leslie sent us the following suggestions:

  • Coming down to watch artists paint anytime is a free activity. Painting starts early in the day and often goes all day long. Many artists have already begun and will keep going until September 11. 
  • The Bright Paws Dog Parade & Pageant is on Thursday, September 9. The parade is free and open to all. We will meet at the Have a Nice Day Mural on the back of the Library and march down Michigan Ave. The pageant, people, and their pets should pre-register here to be eligible for prizes: There will be prizes for winners, and every dog gets a free Bright Walls bandana. 
  • Sunday Funday is on Sunday, September 11. Mascots from the Detroit Tigers, Michigan State University (editor’s note: GO GREEN), and the Detroit Pistons will be walking around for photos. The Jackson County Rose Queen and Miss Teen will also be walking around for photos. Check the schedule to see the concert lineup, as we have a ton of great shows happening between the two stages for families to enjoy. I got a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the puppet show, and that should be really fun!

Tip Number Five

Avoid HANGRY children – utilize food trucks and Downtown Jackson restaurants.

We all know that taking children on outings requires a lot of snacks. And good news – Downtown Jackson does not disappoint when it comes to eats. Bright Walls has also lined up a bunch of food trucks that will be up and running during festival times! The food trucks do not have set hours of operation, but will likely be open during dinner hours on September 8, lunch and dinner hours on September 9-10, and brunch-early dinner hours on September 11 (this is just a rough estimate). The food trucks end up selling out every year, so some may close up early if necessary. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt to pack snacks to bring with you, just in case!)

Thanks to Leslie, we also go the inside scoop on the food truck lineup! Check out this amazing list:

  • Heaven on a Roll 
  • Howdy Doodles Ice Cream Coach
  • Kona Ice
  • Melted
  • PB&Js BBQ
  • Tiki Sam’s Wood Fired Pizza
  • Funky Dog
  • On the Roll
  • Smokey Style’s BBQ
  • Dirt Road Donuts
  • Later Dudes
  • Big Guy Catering
  • Impasto
  • Baby Bear Burger

As for Downtown Jackson, you’ll find everything from quick eats to fine dining. Click here to check out some of our favorite kid-friendly downtown restaurants!

We hope you find these tips helpful! Have another tip to add? Add a comment to this blog post to share it with us. 

Attending Bright Walls With Kids

Bright Walls Basics

What: Bright Walls Mural Festival
When: September 8-11, 2022
Where: Downtown Jackson – Festival Headquarters are in the parking lot by Lean Rocket Lab, with artists painting throughout the town
Features: 30+ artists painting murals throughout downtown, food trucks, live music, and other events
Toddler Approved? Yes – see tips above
Stroller friendly? Yes – just know crowds may be big, making stroller navigation difficult
Big Kid Approved? Yes
Full Sun or Shade? A mix of both throughout the city
Cost? Free to attend. Evening concerts are fully ticketed this year – be sure to check out the Bright Walls Website for details
Parking? There is free parking throughout the city. If you attend during the weekdays, pay close attention to lots that are restricted or have time limits! You’ll want to check the Bright Walls map for available parking lots! During festival days, there will be free parking at the parking garage at 1 Energy Plaza (near Consumers Energy Headquarters). 
Hours: Muralists often paint at all hours of the day – otherwise, check the event schedule for full details!

Bright Walls Stage Lineup
Courtesy of Bright Walls
Bright Walls Map
Visit for a larger version of this map!
Attending Bright Walls with Kids

Leave a Reply