JR poses in front of Inside Out.

Houstonians, get ready for Nuit Blanche. That’s “white night” in French, and this Parisian festival—held in October in the City of Light—is about to take over downtown. The rolling art crawl from noon to midnight on Saturday, April 6, is designed to capitalize on Houston’s already established reputation as a city where artists of all stripes can thrive, as well as show Houstonians works of art from some of the world’s leading—and emerging—talents.

“Nuit Blanche is in 45 cities around the world,” says the director of the Houston festival, Laura Matesco. “It’s meant to be a night of art and celebration that is free for everybody.”

Unique installations centered around City Hall and the Houston Public Library’s central building will highlight the multimedia works of several artists. Inside Out by JR features giant photographs of hundreds of Houston school children. The exhibit echoes the city’s diversity, and following the show in the Bayou City, will travel the world. Yana Friedman’s Space Chain is an interconnected series of hula hoops meant to demonstrate how we are joined together. It will be on display at the Barbara Bush Literary Plaza at the library, and guests are invited to build their own link to it. A multimedia installation called The World is Yours by Hakima El Djoudi takes up resident by Batanga over near Market Square. The montage, using footage from old Hollywood films, looks at the decline of leisure society and what has emerged in its place. I Can’t Remember by Oliver Modr is an exploration of memory. The site-specific installation will be at the Julia Ideson Building.

“I think is this a chance for people to rediscover their own city,” says Matesco. “It combines beautiful works and beautiful settings, and the way the festival is designed, you are free to explore it in your own way, at your own pace.”

Matesco hopes that kind of DIY component will encourage art lovers and the art curious to think differently about how art can be part of the everyday. Nuit Blanche visitors are encouraged grab a map of the sites, then walk from installation to installation. The map offers details about the work and the artist, and Matesco hopes those details will serve as jumping off points for discussion and understanding. For those who want a more structured approach, docents who have been trained in partnership with Nuit Blanche and the Awty International School will lead tours of the artworks.

The event also features live music and other activities throughout the day.

“This is really just a wonderful time to be with family and friends, exploring the city and seeing art,” says Matesco. “It’s imaginative and interactive, and I think people will be surprised what they see.”

Nuit Blanche, April 6. Free. Multiple downtown locations (see map above). More info at nbhouston.com.

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