Get Away: Baltimore’s Light City Festival

Head to Charm City in April for dazzling illuminated sculptural displays after dark.

Baltimore’s Light City Art & Music Festival. Pool [Reflect] by Jen Lewin; photo courtesy of Crystal Whitman Photography

In 2016, Baltimore’s Office of Promotion & The Arts launched a weeklong “Light City,” the first large-scale light festival in the United States, and drew 400,000 people. The free festival of light, music and innovative art transformed Baltimore with colorful and creative sculptures and interactive elements. Now in its third year, the event has expanded to three weekends and some weekdays in between. The first weekend, dubbed “Neighborhood Lights,” is an artist-in-residence program. Working in 14 neighborhoods, a dozen artists received a $15,000 grant per assignment to create an illuminated visual or performance art project.

The main event, Light City Art & Music Festival, features more than 50 attractions scattered about the Inner Harbor—on land, on the water and in the trees. Last year’s Light City festival included a life-size artsy deck of cards, giant illuminated sculptures of all shapes and sizes, and a row of glowing teeter-totters. On April 14 at 8 p.m., a parade with marching bands kicks off the Art & Music week of festivities, which includes concerts, food vendors and an interactive children’s area. Rounding out the week is Labs@LightCity, a four-day free or “pay what you can” conference that focuses on social innovation and equity through seven topics, including education and health. Scheduled speakers include chef Art Smith and former NFL players Aaron Maybin and Matthew Rice (aka Mateo Blu).

Baltimore’s Royal Sonesta Harbor Court hotel (550 Light St.) is offering a Light City package that includes glow necklaces and a complimentary “Glow” cocktail (“electric blueberry fizz” and “Light City lemonade” are two choices) in its Explorers restaurant, which has fantastic harbor views.

Neighborhood Lights: April 6-8; Light City Art & Music Festival: April 14-21, 7 p.m.-11 p.m. nightly, Friday and Saturday extended until midnight; Labs@LightCity: April 18-21 (hours vary). 410-752-8632,

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