Light City festival hopes to attract 400,000 people

By Lauren Cosca and Ashlin Bird
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writers

An estimated 400,000 people or more are expected to visit the Inner Harbor over the next few days to participate in the second annual Light City, a 1.5-mile long festival of lights, music, and food that will run until Saturday, organizers said.

There are 58 attractions, including 22 food and drink vendors, 23 light art displays, 50 concerts, and 125 illuminated performances.

“The festival itself doesn’t make money,” said festival director Kathy Horning. “We are nonprofit, but its economic impact on the city last year was $33.8 million.”

With last year’s attendance reaching almost 400,000 people, Horning hopes that if the weather permits, the festival will match or even surpass that number. The light show is free and open to the public.

“We are over two weekends this year instead of just the one,” Horning said. “So we’re hoping more people have the opportunity to enjoy the art.”

Light City features numerous musical acts. Photo by Ashlin Bird.

Light City features numerous musical acts. Photo by Ashlin Bird.

Tim Nohe, an artist with an interactive music and light display, said he enjoys that the art display is so versatile and differs from day to day. He said that he is a person who gets inspired by the festival’s craziness.

“I like it because digital is super repeatable, and super logical and this thing is crazy,” Nohe said. “It just does what it wants to do. They are all analog voltages, and that means it’s affected by the weather, it’s affected by the mood of the instrument. It just does what it wants to do sometimes.”

He said he’s been a digital artist since college and does photography and sometimes making music for dancers and himself.

“For me this is like a time traveling piece, because this is the first art I did in my first year of college in like 1979,” Nohe said.

Kyle Miller and Tim Scofield, two artists who created a moving peacock display, said they created their project in about three months. They used a repurposed log splitter to move the feathers, and the display came out around 25 by 40 feet, with over 15,000 LEDs.

“It was such a hit at last year’s Light City that they asked us to come back,” Miller said.

LabBodies, an interactive performance art laboratory, incorporated displays having to do with social and political topics occurring in the United States, especially concerning anything to do with race, gender, nationality and ethnicity.

“We asked our performance artists basically to think about historical and contemporary acts of violence they can respond to or relate to and then create an opportunity for creative expression to either find light or to address some type of topic,” said Ashley Dehoyos, the project manager.

One of the many exhibits on display at Light City. Photo by Ashlin Bird.

One of the many exhibits on display at Light City. Photo by Ashlin Bird.

One artist held a three-hour dance marathon in honor of the victims of last June’s Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando, Florida, Dehoyos said.

The artists had to use one projection and one video in their pieces so that it was all light based, Dehoyos said.

One artist, Michael Bowman, a former IT worker who got bored of his job, made an exhibit he said took over six years to put together. Bowman actually drove his exhibit to the harbor to be a part of Light City.

“I think I’m one of the only artists from the area,” he said.

While the artists and creators have been working over a year for this event, some patrons were left feeling a bit disappointed.

“I felt like last year had a lot more exhibits, but that may have been because they spaced out the piece a lot this time around,” said one visitor and Towson student Jake Zeranko.

The walk, which includes several bridges and goes down various streets, is for all ages, and encompasses all different styles and types of art. The Baltimore Inner Harbor is lit up with diverse and abstract forms of art and displays that all are based on light.


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