DJ Jazzy Jeff, Thomas Dolby among headliners set for inaugural Light City Baltimore festival

Thomas Dolby will co-headline the city's inaugural Light City Baltimore festival.

DJ Jazzy Jeff, Thomas Dolby and Dan Deacon headline the music lineup announced Tuesday morning for spring's inaugural Light City Baltimore festival.

Organizers also announced the 50 attractions and performances that will be set up harborside for the "BGE Light Art Walk," along the Pratt and Light street corridors as part of the festival, set for March 28-April 3.


"There's going to be a little bit of something for everybody," promised Bill Gilmore, executive director of the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts.

In addition to Baltimore's own Deacon (10 p.m. April 2), Philadelphia's Jazzy Jeff (10 p.m. March 31) and musician and Johns Hopkins professor Dolby (10 p.m. March 28), the festival will feature music from headliners Robert DeLong (10:45 p.m. April 1), TT the Artist (10 p.m. March 29), Rob Garza (10 p.m. March 30) and DJ Spank Rock (10 p.m. April 3), as well as other local musicians. Musical performances are set for two stages, with a third set aside for Fluid Movement, Single Carrot Theatre, Big Whimsy and other groups.


The illuminated Art Walk will be open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily (midnight Friday and Saturday). It will extend 1.5 miles, from the south shore of the Inner Harbor, near the Maryland Science Center, then north on Light Street and east on Pratt Street to Harbor East. The walk will include food vendors, street theater, a Ferris wheel, performance spots and 28 art installations.

The celebration will officially kick off at 7 p.m. March 28, with a lantern parade organized by the Creative Alliance. The parade will begin at the Ferris wheel, near the science center.

Among the art installations lit up throughout the weeklong festival will be a Japanese-style "Take To-Ro: Bridge of Lights" near the Science Center; "Glacier," a multimedia installation inspired by the idea of standing underneath a melting glacier; "Pipelines," a projection of collages onto McKeldin Fountain depicting issues touching city government, including police violence, education and recreation and housing; "Human Effect," an animated installation that responds to the movement of people walking through it; "Peacock," an animatronic 12-foot high bird whose feathers expand to about 20 feet tall and 40 feet wide; and "The Pool," an area of giant concentric circles.

In all, 247 artists submitted their proposals for inclusion along the Art Walk. Of those chosen, two-thirds were local. "And that was on the merits," stressed Jamie McDonald, chair of the Light City Steering Committee. Giving extra consideration to local artists "was not part of our direction to the jury."

During the day, what festival organizers are calling "Light City U" will feature meetings and conferences designed to address the question, "How do we become a more responsible and equitable society?" This will include conferences on social innovation (March 28-29), health innovation (March 30-31), sustainability innovation (March 30-31) and creative innovation (April 1-2).

"We want the world to see Baltimore as we see it, which is as a hub for innovation," said Brooke Hall, founding partner of Light City Baltimore.

Speakers lined up for the conferences include Radiolab host Jad Abumrab, writer and social activist D. Watkins, AOL co-founder and former CEO Steve Case, futurist and author Amy Webb, UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III and BGE CEO Calvin Butler.

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The festival has a budget of $4 million, Gilmore said, almost all of it provided through the private sector. The city will be subsidizing some services, including security and transportation, he said.


All attractions during Light City Baltimore will be free and open to the public. Tickets to the Light City U conferences run $200-$250; passes to all four conferences will be available for $650-$1,000. Twenty percent of Light City U tickets will be available for free; applications can be found on the Light City Baltimore website at

Outside the festival's boundaries, several city neighborhoods will feature temporary public art projects designed by local artists. The neighborhoods are Coldstream Homestead Montebello, Greater Mondawmin, Hampden, Little Italy and the Station North Arts and Entertainment District.

Organizers say they are optimistic that future Light City Baltimore festivals will attract attention, as well as visitors, from all over the world – much as the South by Southwest Festival brings thousands of visitors flocking to Austin, Texas, every year or the Spoleto arts festival shines a light on Charleston, S.C., annually.

Dates have already been set for Light City Baltimore 2017: March 30-April 9.