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America’s Largest Light Festival Returns to Baltimore

March 13, 2017 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

You know Baltimore for its crabs, its bird-inspired sports teams (Go Os!), and its connection to the “Star- Spangled Banner”; but something UNEXPECTED you may not know is that Baltimore was the first city outside of England to adopt gas street lights (London beat us to the punch in 1807) and is now home to Light City, America’s first and largest international light, music and innovation festival.

Named one of the top “16 things to see and do in the U.S.” by CNN last year, the festival transforms the city’s renowned Inner Harbor into a playground of 23 large-scale light art installations, 35 concerts and more than 200 performances from March 31 through April 8, 2017. Last year’s debut drew 400,000 visitors and created a hub of unity and international inclusivity by providing local Baltimore artists the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a distinguished roster of national and international artists. This year’s festival will include artists from seven countries including the UK, France, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Lebanon and Israel.

Here are a few of the Light City Baltimore story angles:

  • Top 10 Reasons to See Light City Baltimore: A roundup of what NOT to miss at Light City including fun interactive installations by internationally renowned artists; a mini Light City for families; locally sourced food and beverage concepts; live performers like rapper Biz Markie (“You Got What I Need”) and New Orlean’s Dirty Dozen Brass Band; nightly moments such as an illuminated bike party featuring Baltimore’s new Bike Share; “Brilliant Baltimore” illuminating 40 iconic landmarks; “Neighborhoods Lights” extending the magic of the festival to eight distinct neighborhoods; themed hotel specials; and signature Light City cocktails and happy hours.
  • The History of Light and Illuminated Festivals Around the World: It started as a tourist attraction in June 1816, when Rembrandt Peale, son of the famous Philadelphia painter Charles Willson Peale, used gas to light exhibits in his recently founded museum in Baltimore. The Baltimore Gas Light Company lit its first lamp at Market and Lemmon Street — on Feb. 7, 1817. Today, festivals around the world are using everything from neon to lanterns to create these glowing works of art.
  • The Family-Friendly Guide to Light City Baltimore: glow-in-the-dark cotton candy, kid-centric performers, youth maker tents, user-activated illuminated see saws and more!
  • An Instagrammers Guide to Light City Baltimore: Light festivals are a photographer’s dream and let’s be honest, what is the point of going if you can’t share the experience with your friends? This guide will give you tips on the best vantage points, not-to-miss foodie shots, and insider tips for the “Neighborhood Lights” tour.
  • The South by Southwest of the East Coast: Light City is working to put Baltimore on the map just as South by Southwest put Austin, Texas on the map. During the day, the nine-day festival offers innovation conferences that bring together national and local thought leaders and engaged citizens from diverse backgrounds to explore cutting-edge concepts for sparking social change at the intersections of innovation, humanity, culture and technology. The conferences shine a light on the brilliant ideas that will shape our nation’s collective future.
  • “How I” feature: Taking a behind-the-scenes look at the life of an international lighting designer and performer and the process of bringing a world-class light festival to life. Whether it involves virtual reality, reflective platforms, user-activated illumination, sound wave synchronicity, or floating water elements; there is a story to tell for each installation and an even bigger story about the efforts BGE is making to keep a light festival of this magnitude sustainably lit.
  • Sparking Social Change: Many of the artist installations have a strong political or social message. One example is Alaa Minawi, a Palestinian-Lebanese visual artist and Muslim homosexual who was inspired to create his project after working for three years as an interpreter for Syrian, Iraqi, Sudanese and Sumalian refugees. Since 2006, he has worked on more than 300 performances in Lebanon and the Arab world as a lighting designer and performer. This is the first time his piece “my light is your light” will be in North America. Paying tribute to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, this light-installation embodies six human-scale figures representing a family comprised of a father, mother, grandfather, aunt and two children.
  • Seven Uniquely Baltimore Festivals Not-to-miss in 2017: Light City kicks off Baltimore’s festival season, which features a rich lineup of events like HONfest, Artscape, Charm City Bluegrass Festival, Charm City Fringe Festival, the Baltimore Book Festival, and Maryland Film Festival.

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