Thanks to Their Street Art Festivals, These 10 Cities are Mural-Rich and a Must-See

September 28, 2019

It is safe to say that Street Art is changing the world for the better, engaging communities and turning cities all around the world into stunning open-air galleries. A variety of amazing street art festivals taking place each year are significantly contributing to this more than welcome transformation.

Metropolis like Paris, London and New York, and other big street art hubs are certainly some of the best-known street art destinations out there. However, we are bringing you some of the lesser-known but equally amazing cities worldwide that have established a rich mural map thanks to a street art festival taking place there for years now.

Featured image: Maser in Hawaii, courtesy Pow!Wow!.

Jersey City - The Jersey City Mural Arts Program

As one of the most culturally diverse cities in the US, Jersey City has an exciting and vibrant art and culture scene that grows stronger and larger each year, with a particular accent on public art. Crawling up entire sides of multi-story buildings and decorating overpasses and bridges, even infrequent visitors to the city have likely noticed the abundant vivid murals that adorn it.

This is much thanks to the Jersey City Mural Arts Program, a Mayor’s Office Initiative that links established and emerging local, national and international mural artists with property owners city-wide as part of an innovative beautification program. Running for the past seven years, the program has transformed the city into an outdoor art gallery with the help of artists such as Seth, Ruben Sanchez, Pixel Pancho, Eduardo Kobra, MadC, and Faith47, among others.

Featured image: Aqualand by JCMAP Summer Youth Program in Jersey City.

Ostend - The Crystal Ship

Over the past four years, the Belgian coastal city of Ostend has turned into a vibrant outdoor gallery all thanks to The Crystal Ship festival. Taking place during spring, the festival invites the most acclaimed street artists to use the city as its playground by creating gigantic murals and fantastic art installations. With the help of artists such as Case Maclaim, David Walker, Helen Bur, Jaune, Miss Van and Mohamed l’Ghacham, the city became richer for 50 permanent artworks in 2019, with the highest one measuring 40 meters.

Featured image: Ella & Pitr in Ostende.

Montreal - MURAL Festival

Taking place for the past six years, Montreal’s MURAL Festival is an 11-day long celebration of the international urban art movement that has reinforced the city as a go-to global destination for contemporary urban art and an ultimate tourist destination. Taking place around Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Montreal's main artery, it has infused excitement in this terrific space through almost 90 amazing murals created by artists such as GleoLaurence VallièresPichiAvoBen EineCryptikSaner, and Ron English, among others.

Featured image: PichiAvo in Montreal.

Stavanger - Nuart

Founded in 2001, Nuart is today widely considered the world’s leading celebration of Street Art among its peers. Bringing together the most acclaimed and progressive public art practitioners in the world, it has also transformed the city of Stavanger into a street art city. Over the years, many artists have left their mark here, including Alice Pasquini, Carrie Reichardt, Fintan MageeMartin WhatsonMilu CorrechNina GhafariSaid Dokins and Snik. The city is also home the world's largest outdoor mural created by Ella & Pitr on a 21,000 square meter roof surface in Klepp, Rogaland.

Featured image: Monument to a Disappearing Monument by Fintan Magee for Nuart Stavanger.

Detroit - Murals In The Market

Returning to Detroit this September for its 5th consecutive year, Murals In The Market has recently been named one of the Smithsonian's Top 5 Mural Festivals In The World. And rightfully so, because the festival has enriched the city with more than 200 works of public art including sculptures and installations strategically placed throughout the Market District. Stroll around the neighborhood and see amazing works by Camilo Pardo, Ellen Rutt, Ever, Jillian Evelyn, Dan Witz, and 1010, to only name a few.

Featured image: Ellen Rutt in Detroit.

Kaka'ako - Pow! Wow!

Running for nine years in Kaka'ako, Hawaii, POW! WOW! is hosted by top local talent and well attended by global artists. Deriving its name from the impact and reaction of art, the festival has brought the colorful makeover of the city, leaving its imprint year-round. Over the years, the festival invited almost 300 artists to use Kaka'ako streets as their playground, including Icy & Sot, Daniel Arsham, Faile, Seth, Vhils, Cryptik, Alexis Diaz, and Doze Green, among others.

Featured image: Jonny Alexander in Hawaii.

Sacramento - Wide Open Walls

Promoting diversity through artistic expression, Wide Open Walls was first founded in 2016, bringing new amazing murals to the city of Sacramento. Over the years, the festival has created over 80 permanent works as gifts to the region and 250 temporary works that have been presented at a range of events. Lauren YS, Phlegm, Pixel Pancho, Herakut and Shepard Fairey are only some of the artists who have contributed to turning Sacramento into an open-air gallery.

Featured image: Shepard Fairey in Sacramento.

Atlanta - Living Walls

For years, Living Walls has been showcasing and contributing to Atlanta street art, seeking to promote, educate and change perspectives about public space in our communities. They promote the power of public art as a social and economic engine, providing an artistic workforce to create healthy, sustainable urban spaces for the city of Atlanta. Since their foundation, the organization has facilitated over 100 public murals featured throughout the metropolitan area created by some of the most distinguished street artists and muralists from around the globe, including Hopare, Sam3, Axel VoidAgostino IacurciBorondo and Hyuro.

Featured image: Doodles in Atlanta.

Lodz - Urban Forms

The Urban Forms Festival was founded in 2009 with a focus on broadly defined city culture and on organizing, promoting and supporting independent artistic initiatives in public space. Their idea is to change the city space by raising its quality and aesthetics. Each year, they bring together outstanding international and talented local artists to create murals and participate in workshops and other events. Os Gemeos, Aryz, Roa, Vhils, Etam Cru, Inti and Sepe are only some of the talented artists who have visited Lodz.

Featured image: Remed in Lodz.

Hong Kong - HKwalls

A non-profit arts organization, HKwalls is hosting an annual street art festival in Hong Kong each March, accompanied by year-round programming. Celebrating creativity, originality and freedom of expression, they actively work on connecting and building relationships with artists, the community and organizations worldwide through high-quality public art, while making the creative process accessible to all. Since 2014, they have contributed to building a rich mural map in the city of Hong Kong, with the help of artists such as Pixel Pancho, Low Bros, Okuda, Cinta Vidal, Insa, Zmogk, Alexis Diaz, and Peeta, among others.

Featured image: Zmogk in Hong Kong. All images courtesy their respective festival.