For months, the hype has been building about what will happen when Baltimore is aglow from dozens of light installations.
Now, we’re days away from the first Light City Baltimore, the week-long arts and innovation festival that is taking over the Inner Harbor and branching out into Charm City’s neighborhoods.
We know it will be amazing to see Dan Deacon perform on Saturday night, and walk the Harbor while it’s buzzing. But to help refine an extensive list of art and free performances across all genres, we weighed in with some of the people who helped shape Light City to get their top picks (and added a few of our own, too).
Performances and Events
The Creative Alliance Light City Lantern Parade (Starts at Rash Field and ends at President and Pratt streets, Monday, March 28, 7:30 p.m.)
The kickoff event for Light City couldn’t be more perfect—the Creative Alliance’s beloved Lantern Parade winding along the harbor, with an expected 700 participants shining beacons of light along the water. “It will be really special because the lantern parade as one of the things that inspired Light City from the beginning,” says festival co-founder Brooke Hall.
Robert DeLong (Friday, April 1, Club Light City, 10:45 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.)
The electronic artist, who hails from Washington State, has a show that seems tailor-made for the festival, with his pulsating electronic beats accompanied by innovative light display he coordinates from Wii and video game controllers. “Every story we’re trying to tell at Light City, Robert DeLong pretty much checks every box,” says Kathy Hornig, festivals director at the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts. Also, catch DeLong for free before he heads to festivals like Coachella and Firefly.
TT the Artist (Tuesday, March 29, Club Light City, 10 to 11 p.m.)
We can’t help but give a plug for this local girl who headlines the Inner Harbor stage on Tuesday night. This year, she’s toured nationally (she even played SXSW), and her energetic brand of Baltimore Club music is infectious—in fact, her single “Dig” has launched a bit of a choreography craze. Catch her now—a lot is in store for this party starter.
Community Beacons: Making Waves (Baltimore Visitor Center, 401 Light St., Starts at 8 p.m. each night of the festival)
David Fakunle, who sat on Light City’s steering committee, admits he’s biased about Community Beacons: Making Waves since he’s a part of the performance piece, but we agree that it sounded too intriguing to leave off our list. How can you go wrong when you mix West African djembe drumming with lights linked to illuminate each beat on the walls of the Baltimore Visitor Center? Feel free to bring your own instruments to jam along (Fakunle says there will also be a few djembes for you to try out), and the best part is that marching bands, spoken word artists, and others will make appearances throughout the week, making this piece truly about the spirit of collaboration and showcasing the city’s talent. “We will create an orchestra every night,” Fakunle says.
Digital Skin Live (Inner Harbor Art Walk, runs each night of the festival)
Part performance, part installation, this piece by Canadian artist Mateo Mounier invites its audience to transform as color washes them in an array of light and patterns. Brooke Allen saw Digital Skin Live during a trip to New York, and called it “amazing.”
Moss of Aura (Wednesday, March 30, Concert Stage at Harbor East, 10 to 11 p.m.)
This solo instrumental project by Gerrit Welmers (you’ll know him as the keyboardist in Future Islands) sounds like a transcendent experience as he uses software to create rich melodies and heavy rhythms.
(all located at the Inner Harbor)
Dear Baltimore (Thick Art Studios, Baltimore)
While you’re strolling the harbor, art might whizz right by you. Keep your eyes out for a jumble of neon letters propelled by bicycles that spell out phrases composed of the letters from “Dear Baltimore.”
Pipelines (Luminous Intervention, Baltimore)
This piece “really brings home the social justice component of the festival,” says Light City co-founder Justin Allen. It consists of a large-scale projection mapping at McKeldin Fountain that presents some of the issues that Baltimore faces: police violence, recreation, education, and housing. Along with the piece, the artists have arranged forums and musical performances to relate to the content so we can continue the dialogue surrounding this important work.
Peacock (Tim Scofield and Kyle Miller, Baltimore)
When this illuminated fowl unfurls its tail to stand 20-foot-tall and 40-feet-wide, it will be quite the sight to see.
Diamonds Light Baltimore (Cheon Kroiz, Artist and Architect Collaborative, Baltimore)
The 15, diamond-esque structures that will surround the harbor will use light to do more than just highlight these geometric shapes. At 10 p.m. each night, the lights will change from white to blue, to signify the curfew that went into effect after the unrest following the death of Freddie Gray. You can walk inside and around each structure and you ponder what has changed and what hasn’t since last April.
Labyrinth (Ian Brill, Pittsburgh, PA)
Mazes have frequently been thought of as metaphors for a spiritual journey. In this case, they become a symbol of the transformative power of art. Festival visitors are encouraged to get lost in this installation, whether together or separately, and you might be amazed to be immersed in something made solely of light and sound.
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