A SunFest survival guide

SunFest is back, and the big, waterfront festival is expected to clog downtown West Palm Beach with at least 165,000 people Wednesday through Sunday.

It's called the SunFest Music and Arts Festival for a reason: The event's 31st year brings plenty of arts and crafts, food, fireworks and other diversions to complement the 50 musical acts, which include the Smashing Pumpkins, Cheap Trick, Train and Jimmy Cliff.

It's an ambitious sprawl of festivities, so here's your survival guide: what to bring, where to park and how best to soak up SunFest.

WEATHER


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The forecast calls for thunderstorms all week, but count SunFest executive director Paul Jamieson among the hopeful. "The rain's coming down now," he said on Tuesday. "We'd rather have South Florida get the rain out of its system today than have it rain tomorrow."

Still, pack an umbrella or poncho to the rain-or-shine festival. SunFest also allows collapsible lawn chairs, blankets, sunblock, hats and visors, factory-sealed bottled water, baby food or food for people with medical conditions, strollers and nonprofessional cameras (no lens). What not to bring: coolers, food, Frisbees, roller skates, scooters, skateboards, bicycles, professional cameras or weapons. Find the full list on SunFest.com.

FOOD

Nearly two dozen food, drink and beer vendors will operate at three food courts located near the FPL, Tire Kingdom and Ford stages, and at the Club SunFest Party Area off Datura Street and Narcissus Avenue. The menu includes gyros, shish kebabs, cheese steaks and pizza.

TIGHTENED SECURITY

SunFest organizers, mindful of security in the wake of the Boston marathon bombings, are limiting personal bag sizes to 12-by-12-by-6 inches, spokeswoman Melissa Sullivan said.

"We're being low-key about security," she said. "We're a 30-year-old festival, and we've had issues with the city itself and swine flu. So obviously, we're well equipped."

PARKING

Because you don't want to get caught in a snarl on Clematis Street, families can buy a $6 advance-parking pass to Northbridge Centre (301 Fourth St.). Pay at SunFest.com by 10 p.m. before the day you plan to park. That'll be the cheapest, but more-expensive and closer options include $10 at WPB Police Department Garage, the Clematis Street Garage, the Okeechobee Surface Lot and the 3,300-space CityPlace. Parking costs $15 at the Evernia Street Garage.

West Palm Beach police are closing portions of Clematis Street near the Intracoastal during SunFest. From Wednesday to Sunday, on-street parking will not be allowed in the 200 block of Datura Street, Trinity Place between Olive and Chase avenues, and Banyan Boulevard between Narcissus Avenue and Flagler Drive. From Friday to Sunday, 300 Fern St. between Olive Avenue and Dixie Highway and the 300 block of Datura Street will have no on-street parking.

ARTS, CRAFTS AND THE REST

The BB&T Juried Fine Art and Craft Show brings 140 mixed-media national artists working in wood, jewelry, ceramics, painting and other disciplines. Art demonstrations will be offered at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and the public can view works from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday. Two judges will handpick 16 winners at 11:45 a.m. Saturday.

The third annual Run in the SunFest TGi5K will corral runners to the waterfront at 5:15 p.m. Friday. Registration includes a shirt for the first 1,000 runners, a post-race drink and admission to SunFest that day.

A fireworks show over the Intracoastal will cap off SunFest at 9 p.m. Sunday.

SunFest

When: Wednesday to Sunday

Where: West Palm Beach Waterfront along the Intracoastal Waterway

Cost: $37 for one-day tickets, $69 for five-day festival pass, free for children 5 or younger

Contact: 800-786-3378 or SunFest.com