What to Know About the Month-Long Carnival of 5 Fires


Parker Galore is pictured second from the left in this group of Gallery 5 notables.
  • Parker Galore is pictured second from the left in this group of Gallery 5 notables.

If, as Socrates said, the secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new, then the Carnival of 5 Fires is positively Socratic.

When the event began in 2006, Richmond wasn’t a place where people routinely danced with fire or artists painted a live model’s body for an audience. The growth of the scene owes a debt to the Circus’ boundary-challenging programming. But it’s also a sampler for those who’ve yet to experience the variety of talent that bubbles just under the city’s surface.

For a decade, the Carnival has snowballed to where the month-long event represents a "what's happening" inventory of various Richmond subcultures – art, fire performance, music, film, burlesque, original theater, belly dancing, circus arts, light projections and DJ dance parties. “It’s a holiday tradition for Richmond to come together and celebrate different circles of creativity under one umbrella,” says ringmaster and long-time organizer Parker Galore.

This year, much of it is keyed to borrowed native son Edgar Allan Poe because the festivities kick off Oct. 7, the 167th anniversary of his death, before barreling through October and ending with the puppet-led annual Halloween parade to the Oregon Hill overlook. *All events are held at Gallery5 unless otherwise noted.

Film fans

Silent Music Revival screening of "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Fall of the House of Usher" with improvised live musical soundtrack by Dave Watkins. Oct. 7, 8 p.m.

Troma film series screening of “Hectic Knife” featuring a knife-wielding vigilante trying to save the world from an evil, naked villain. Star, producer and co-creator Peter Litvin and director Greg Deliso will provide commentary and answer questions. Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m.

Silent Music Revival 10th anniversary screening of Carl Theodor Dreyer's silent classic “Vampyr,” with improvised musical accompaniment by Navi. Oct. 30, 8 p.m.

Troma film series double feature of “The Thingy” and “Fear Town, USA” about four boys looking to lose their virginity, a girl haunted by a dark secret, a lonely teenager, and an escaped mental patient meeting at a party in the woods. Bad idea. Oct. 31, 7:30.

Art appreciators

First Friday Kickoff at Gallery5 with group show of over 20 local and visiting artists, including Jill-of-all-trades Molly Chopin, who will be painting a live model until about 8 p.m. when the model becomes a living sculpture in the art show while Chopin does face-painting. “I’m stoked to pull artists from other places to weave in with our locals,” Galore says.

Upstairs, an exhibition by local taxidermy and curiosity purveyors, Rest in Pieces. Oct. 7, 7 p.m.

Live performances

Variety show hosted by local favorite, Deanna Danger, as Poe and featuring an ensemble of six performing burlesque, sideshow and circus arts. October 7, 9 p.m.

Local band Dharma Bombs opening for Lightfoot Revival on the inside stage. Oct. 7, 10 p.m.

Party Liberation Front presents Pyro Circus Street Show featuring fire performance, circus arts and bellydance set to DJs spinning music. Oct. 7, 8 p.m. Brook Road at Marshall Street.

“Earth Dreams,” a collaborative ritual performance celebrating the planet through music, movement and poetry featuring music by Lobo Marino and Aha Moment, Bharathanatyam Indian classical dance, Laterna Dance Company and puppet performances by All the Saints Theater Company. Oct. 9, 7 p.m.

“The Haunting of Poe” presented by Deanna Danger Productions and Gilded Lily Burlesque. Oct. 21-22, 9 p.m.

Richmond Burlesque Revue presents the “Creepshow Peepshow.” Oct. 29, 9 p.m.

Interactive interests

Tarot card readings by Lauren Onca O’Leary of World Spirit Tarot. Oct. 7, 7 p.m.

Official Carnival afterparty with Music Box: Sugar and Spice Edition with DC’s DJ Throdown, NY’s Beat Kitty and Richmond’s own Sultans. Oct. 7, 10:30 p.m. at Strange Matter, 929 W. Grace St.

11th Annual Richmond Halloween parade presented by All the Saints Theatre Company kicks off in Monroe Park and parades through Oregon Hill. All are welcome to march and costumes are encouraged. Oct. 31, 7 p.m. sharp, Monroe Park.

*All events at Gallery5 unless otherwise noted.