The Light City Baltimore festival early next year will feature an animatronic peacock, hundreds of illuminated sculptures resembling a flotilla of paper boats, "lighted" cotton candy and a free concert by Baltimore musician Dan Deacon.
Early details of the festival organized by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts — billed as the first large-scale, international light festival in the U.S. — were announced Tuesday.
"Light City will be nothing that Baltimore has ever seen before," Kathy Hornig, BOPA's festivals director, said in a phone interview. "People's imaginations will be sparked, and kids and families will make memories together that will last forever."
The weeklong event is modeled after Australia's 18-day "Vivid Sydney" festival, which drew roughly 1.4 million visitors in 2014. Local tourism officials estimate that the inaugural Baltimore event could attract about 350,000 visitors, and hope to raise about $4 million through private donations. The city's tourism arm, Visit Baltimore, will contribute about $250,000 annually.
Light City Baltimore will run after dark from March 28 through April 3 along a 1.2-mile art walk in the Inner Harbor. The lineup will include 29 original works of light art, more than 50 concerts and 100 performances of dance, theater and puppetry.
A ticketed event known as LightCityU will bring together thinkers from education, public health and other fields to brainstorm ideas for social change at the Columbus Center* at the Inner Harbor.
"Baltimore is a diverse city," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a news release. "Although we have challenges, our city is filled with talented people living and working here every day. Light City Baltimore will showcase the reach and depth of Baltimore's creative communities."
The festival will include Neighborhood Lights, a program awarding $10,000 to five communities to create public art projects in collaboration with artists-in-residence.
"This program is in direct response to the community meetings we went to," Hornig said. "Folks wanted to know how Light City could extend beyond the Inner Harbor."
The neighborhoods participating are Coldstream Homestead Montebello, Hampden, Greater Mondawmin, Little Italy and the Station North Arts & Entertainment District.
The participants announced Tuesday come from the U.S., England and Australia and were selected by a panel of jurors from more than 200 entries.
The remaining 25 percent of the festival's lineup, including music headliners and featured speakers for LightCityU, are still to be announced.
Deacon, who founded the Wham City artist collective and who is known nationally for his innovative performances, will put on a free concert April 2. The venue has not been announced.
Among the light installations is "Voyage," the flotilla of paper-like boats attached to underwater LED lights by the British artistic collective known as Aether & Hemera. "Festival-goers can manipulate the colors and patterns of the rainbow lights with their cellphones," Hornig said.
"Peacock" by Baltimore artists Tim Scofield and Kyle Miller will be a 20-foot animatronic steel sculpture that will open and close a 40-foot-wide lighted "tail."
As for the lighted cotton candy?
"It's completely safe to eat," Hornig said. "I think the LED light is in the cone."