Known as the world’s largest street painting festival, Absolut Chalk began in 1997 when over 350 artists from across Southern California, the United States and other countries came to the Universal City Walk for one summer weekend to create spectacular murals on pavement using pastel chalk in the traditional Italian street painting art form called "Madonnari".
In 1998, Absolut Chalk moved from Universal City to Centennial Square in historic downtown Pasadena. By 2005 the number of artists participating in this annual event had double to 700 creating street paintings of various themes and subjects which were viewed by over 75,000 visitors in person over the two day event and an additional 10 million media hits online. After the year 2005, the festival was renamed as the Pasadena Chalk Festival, a name it retains to this day.
In the years 2001 and 2002 Light Bringer Project (a Pasadena-based nonprofit arts organization which benefits the community arts programs) was a major festival sponsor during these years.
Prize categories include: Best of Festival, People’s Choice, On The Way To MOCA, Best Rendering of a Masterpiece, Most Humorous, Best Use of Color, Most Inspirational, and others.