WaterFire KC is an event unlike any other. It’s an evening of live performance art in Kansas City’s historic Country Club Plaza that any KC resident or visitor should plan on seeing. After all, Kansas City is one of a handful of locations in the world that hosts this festival.
There’s plenty to see, do and eat during WaterFire KC. For anyone looking for a KC festival, it’s near the top of the list. We’ve put together this guide so you can get the most out of your evening. And whether it’s before, during or after the festivities, we hope we’ll see you at Parkway Social Kitchen during the WaterFire festival.
What is WaterFire KC?
The WaterFire festival was originally created by visual artist Barnaby Evans in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1994. Centered around the city’s recent riverfront renovation, Evans wanted to create a spectacle that would become the crown jewel on Rhode Island’s capital. His endeavor to create “a vision of fire and architecture” became a massive tourist attraction and a staple of the city.
The popularity of the WaterFire festival demanded expansion, and Evans began scouting new cities. Upon seeing Kansas City’s Plaza district and the Brush Creek waterfront park that snakes along the southern edge, he knew it was the perfect spot. Today, Kansas City shares the honor of hosting the WaterFire festival alongside cities like Rome and Singapore.
Things to Do During WaterFire Kansas City
WaterFire KC is a one-of-a-kind visual arts festival, and there are so many things to do. Whether you’re coming down by yourself, on a date or bringing the whole family, you’ll find a great night full of fun activities.
First, come early. This is a free event with no tickets, which makes calculating the exact number of attendees more difficult. However, educated estimates put the attendance somewhere around 20,000. That’s a lot of people packing into the Plaza. Parking can be a bit of a challenge, and if Lyft or Uber aren’t options for you, it’s a good idea to get to the Plaza early when there are still plenty of places to park. There’s plenty to do before WaterFire KC begins at 5. Browse shops, grab a coffee or stop into Parkway for a pre-festival appetizer and drink.
The WaterFire Kansas City pre-show starts at 5, with a variety of artists performing along Brush Creek between Broadway and Baltimore. Seating is first-come-first-serve, and the best seats are on the grass next to the creek. Packing a picnic blanket or camp chairs is a good idea. You don’t have to make your way to Brush Creek right at 5 — the festival doesn’t official begin until 7 — but you’ll get a better seat if you arrive early.
Then, at 7, the show begins. It’s difficult to find the words that do justice to the awe-inspiring spectacle of the Plaza WaterFire. Floating flames, fire dancers, music and more light up WaterFire KC for all to see. The show runs three hours, and then there are community bonfires afterwards.
Where Parkway Will Be at WaterFire KC
Adding Parkway Social Kitchen to your WaterFire KC plans will make your evening even better. On the corner of Ward Parkway and Jefferson Street, Parkway’s dining room overlooks Brush Creek just down from the mainstage of the show, making us one of the most convenient restaurants near WaterFire. You can stop in before the show starts for food and drinks, or come by for dinner anytime during the show. It’s a great WaterFire restaurant to visit. Our menu of elevated comfort foods will have something for everyone in the family, including the kids.
You can also find Parkway at our award-winning booth. As one of the WaterFire food vendors, we’ll be serving up chip and hot dog combos that are perfect for the kids, as well as other favorite menu items and drinks. If you’re looking for something to grab on the go before heading to your seat next to Brush Creek, the Parkway booth is perfect for you.
When the show ends, most families who came down for the evening will be ready to head home with the kids. But, for those of you who aren’t quite done, stop in for the Parkway after party. We’re a short walk from your seats during the WaterFire KC show. Our upstairs dining room and bar provide a great atmosphere for late-night drinks on a beautiful October evening. You can also head downstairs to The Lounge for an atmospheric nightcap with live music.
Parkway is the right WaterFire restaurant to complement this incredible festival. You can call in or go online to make a reservation for dinner and secure your spot, or you can drop in any time. We’ll see you at WaterFire KC.