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Sunday 2 June 2013

Berkeley Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival

Today the sidewalks of Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto came alive with colour.

This weekend marked the 17th Annual Berkeley Chocolate & Chalk Art Festival.

Participants are invited to take part in decorating the sidewalks with chalk art as part of a competition. Entry to the competition is free and participants are assigned spaces along the sidewalk. It's all pretty flexible and as long as the spot is available participants can choose where they'd like their assigned space to be. 

Ava staked out a particularly shady spot under a tree near the start of the festival and set about creating her music inspired masterpiece. It's in front of 1625 Shattuck Avenue if you're interested. We were not sure beforehand what Ava was going to draw. In fact, I don't think she knew until she started! She had originally joked that she was going to draw a T-Rex biting someone's head off - lovely! I was a little worried that she'd settled on this idea however after a little staring at her blank canvas she started drawing a guitar. Much more civilised.

Ava's chalk masterpiece

More musical instruments were added; a flute, a drum kit, a (barely recognisable) piano and a colourful xylophone along with a rainbow of music notes and the heading "I heart music". The background was then carefully coloured in with yellow and blue before our little artist signed her name. An artist always needs to sign their work!  

Our little artist with her blank canvas

Ava drawing musical instruments
I love music

Adding some background colour

Contemplating what to do next

Voila! All done!

Once Ava was finished with her creation it was time to grab some lunch and check out the other chalk art works. Now you may remember that the title of the festival also contained the word "chocolate". Chocolate is a major feature of the festival with many eateries throughout the Gourmet Ghetto selling special chocolate themed tasting dishes for the day. We tried a couple of odd sounding but rather delicious chocolate themed dishes for our lunch. First up we tried the very saucy Chocolate Chicken Tikka from Indian restaurant Mint Leaf. It was pretty tasty. Even Ava liked it (she's pretty fussy at times) although she wasn't too keen on the mess that the sauce made as she ate it with her fingers!
Next up we tried the Caribbean Black Bean Chocolate Soup from Soop. It was pretty tasty too although unlike the chicken I couldn't actually taste any of the chocolate. Not necessarily a bad thing!

A Chocolate Chicken Tikka mess!

Caribbean Black Bean Chocolate Soup

With our bellies filled with chocolate goodness we set off to explore the sidewalk gallery. Here's a look at some of our favourite masterpieces

Bears, bike, balloons and a bird

Balloon and bird detail

Little Charlie flies to the Milky Way

Pretty hearts and leaves

I enjoyed watching the artists create the drawings

Ava liked this one


So colourful


The Kingfisher - my favourite

Another fun feature of the festival was the Chalkboard Car - a car painted with, you guessed it, chalkboard paint! So much fun for the kids. Both Ava and Lola took part in this one (Lola had been asleep earlier while Ava created her masterpiece) and they had a great time scribbling all over the sides, front, back, wheels, mirrors... Lola was pretty happy with her new friend that I helped her create. Lola leant against the side of the car and I traced around her body. She then added important features like eyes, a nose, a mouth, hair and buttons down the front. She was pretty protective of her new friend and kept a close eye on it to make sure that none of the other kids washed it off!

A new canvas - this time it's a chalkboard car

I traced around Lola's body and she added the details

Lola and her portrait

Chalkboard car

I love my friend!

Lots of scribbles

We were starting to feel a little peckish again so we stopped by the market stalls where we found some of the most delicious cupcakes I've ever tried. Plumeria Flours' cupcakes are baked in little square boxes and come in fresh tropical flavours such as banana, mango, guava, Kona coffee and strawberry. Kim and Ava had banana (possibly the nicest banana cake I've ever had - sorry Mum), Lola had strawberry and I had mango. They were all "deee-licious" - something that Lola pointed out after every spoonful!

Mmm... cupcake in a box


There were still plenty more chalk artworks to see so we hit the sidewalk again and continued back down Shattuck Avenue. Here's a look at more of our favourite artworks.

Lola called this one a mermaid; Ava said it was a fairy. The artist said it was a water fairy.
I guess the girls were both kind of right!

That Psy pops up everywhere!

Ixcacao, the Mayan goddess of chocolate, fertility and abundance

Ooh... this one looks familiar! 

Dancing and flowers

Pity someone smudged the mouth on this one

City in a city

Berkeley baker

Dark side of the pop tart

Little horse artwork

Turtles, flowers and dinosaurs

Off Road - another of my favourites

A festival just isn't a festival without face painting, balloon twisting clowns and pony rides, and sure enough this festival had all of those things. Lola was desperate to see the ponies but, as usual, freaked out about the idea of actually riding one. Luckily she was more than happy to just watch Ava have a turn. The same goes for the face painting. Ava was pretty happy with her little butterfly design and Lola was just happy to admire it.

It's not a festival without face painting!

Heading home we noticed one last whimsical chalk touch on the sidewalk...

Oh oh...

Oh no! Looks like the portaloo is leaking!

 What a fun day out in Berkeley!


  1. Wow this really does look fun! Sometimes I really miss living on the west coast. Haha I have bi-coastal disorder. I am from NY but lived in Seattle for a decade. Moved back to NY the rain got to me but the SF/Berkeley has the same vibe but more sun!

    Ai of

    Dressing Ken

    1. We haven't made it to Seattle yet but from what I hear it seems like a rainy version of the Bay Area! Hoping to go there very soon.

  2. OAW! Loads of fun! I love the chalk car. And the girls' drawings and self portrait is just so cute! The food seems pretty interesting as well - chocolate chicken!!!

    1. The girls had so much fun! Ava's drawing is still there on the sidewalk. It doesn't rain much here and it's not in a particularly busy spot for pedestrian traffic so it should last a while. Maybe it will still be here when you visit ;)


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