Eureka Springs, the “Extraordinary Escape” located in the Arkansas Ozarks, is alive and welcoming the year ‘round, but in spring it becomes ever so bold. Why? Because in spring this historic village begins to strut its stuff. And in 2017, that includes new stuff at great attractions such as The Great Passion Play, Intrigue Theater, America’s Most Haunted Hotel, Phunkberry, May Festival of the Arts, as well as Main Street Eureka Springs.
- The Great Passion Play will begin its fiftieth season, on Friday, May 5, at 8:30 p.m. but with nuances for the 2017 season. Added to the entrance way of the Holy Land Tour is a Biblical marketplace featuring carpenters, potters, and other artisans making hand-crafted items. Also new is Noah’s Ark Park, a petting zoo with camels; llama; an assortment of miniature goats, donkeys and horses; plus, a pharaoh hound. The play itself boasts of more than 170 actors, dozens of birds and animals, all assembled to portray the last days of Christ on a set that is three stories tall and 550 feet across and meticulous replicates Jerusalem of 2000 years ago. The play will have evening performances on Friday and Saturday nights through the end of the opening month with two added performances on Thursday, May 25 and Sunday, May 28 for the Memorial Day weekend. Surrounding the amphitheater are The Christ of the Ozarks, the New Holy Land, Sacred Arts Center, the Bible Museum, hiking trails, and more. www.greatpassionplay.org/
- Intrigue Theater has already begun its seventh season and continues to completely mystify each and every audience that witnesses their extensive journey into the art of magic and illusion. Illusionist Sean-Paul and ghost whisperer Juliana Fay have drawn from their decades of performing around the world to transform the 1910 Gavioli Chapel into a performance venue that vibrantly enhances their innovative and brilliant homage to the Golden Age of Magic and the Ghostly Spiritualist movement of the early 1900s. A new stage with augmented audience sight lines, a proscenium, crystal chandeliers, period stage lighting and historic props has now transformed this Victorian, limestone chapel into a showplace of mind-boggling magic, mysticism and journeys to “the other side. The new Intrigue Theater dynamically adds to the ambiance of a town known for the unknown. intriguetheater.com/
- America’s Most Haunted Hotel further solidifies Eureka Springs as a town known for the unknown. The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa’s nightly ghost tour has for 2017 added a new history room at the tour’s origination point. This “Faculty Lounge” honors the Crescent College & Conservatory for Young Women (circa 1908-1934). Here patrons can look at images of the “living” co-eds prior to touring, prior to perhaps bumping into one those ladies who never left or returned to the building following graduation. Another off-beat, recovered treasure displayed in the room is an original calliaphone invented and manufactured by the infamous Norman Baker. It is the morgue of his Cancer Curing Hospital (circa 1937-1939) that is the pièce de résistance of the tour. Said to be the most paranormally active area in the hotel, it culminates the tour which winds down from the fourth floor to the basement with numerous stops and stories of ghostly encounters along the way, stories that oftentimes make even the most brave feel faint. www.americasmosthauntedhotel.com/
- Phunkberry is Eureka Springs’ newest music festival. This second three-day event, May 4-6, has an all new line up with the newest of now sounds focusing on the top national and regional funk and jazz bands. Featured for 2017 is The Motet, an American funk, Afrobeat and jazz influenced group from Denver CO; The Werks, a psychedelic dance, jam, funk, rock group from Dayton 0H; and from Chicago IL comes Maniac Focus, and electronic music project of John “JmaC” McCartin. All 16 groups will take the stage in front of thousands at “The Farm”, 160 panoramic acres atop the Ozark Mountains. phunkberry.com/
- May Festival of the Arts honors a community that has, for more than a decade, been anchored on the “Top 25 Cities for Art” in the small cities category in such publications as American Style Magazine. And, since Eureka Springs boasts of more than 350 working artists in a town of 2,000 where cutting-edge is a way of life, the hot and exciting nuance in this month-long fête is “The Eurekan Spectacle”, an augmented reality based experiential app that allows users to witness a Shakespearean play at various real-world locations around Eureka Springs. The Eurekan Spectacle goes live May 1. Download instructions and a walking tour map can be found at www.eurekanspectacle.com. Eureka’s May Festival is packed with one-of-a-kind art exhibits, demonstrations, performances, culinary arts, free music in the park, and the wildest street party thrown by artists: The White Street Walk. www.eurekaspringsfestivalofthearts.com/
- Main Street Eureka Springs is blessed each year with shop owners and downtown entrepreneurs who keep a watchful eye on the latest trends and products and 2017 is no exception. A swarm of new shops and new inventories at established shops await Eureka’s nearly one million visitors starting in May. Just as new as the merchandise downtown is the “Downtown N Underground” tour. Its 2017 reboot features an extended route that takes strollers along the same exact sidewalks and sidetrails used by the outlaws and zealots, the famous and infamous back when Eureka Springs was considered the wild west. The tour also includes an exclusive visit to three underground locations, private and off limits to the general public with one final stop as “guests take the stage” at the city’s historic auditorium. eurekaspringsdowntown.com/
“If you ever wanted to see a town strut, travel this spring to the crown jewel of Northwest Arkansas, Eureka Springs,” said Bill Ott, former chairman of the Greater Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce, “and once you get here you will be strutting right along with us with no desire ever to return home.”