‘Blink’ lights festival in Cincinnati continues through weekend

CINCINNATI — Blink a multi-day lights and art event in Cincinnati, is a walk-through experience with more than 30 blocks of the city and Northern Kentucky showing lighted murals.

Attendees will find there’s more to experience this year than on previous Blink weekends, from the opening parade, spectacular large-scale projection mapping installations and new murals to a drone show, an Asianati Night Market and much more.

The walk-through festival of lights, art and projection-mapping displays will take over more than 30-plus city blocks throughout downtown Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky nightly through Sunday beginning at 7 p.m. Blink was last experienced in 2019 by 1.3 million people.

“There will be lots of fun surprises and some other cultural events in and around the city during that time but the footprint for this event is pretty similar to what people experienced in years past. We activate over 30-plus city blocks both on the Cincinnati side, and crossing the river, over into Covington,” said Justin Brookhart, executive director of the event.

Blink features 39 large-scale projection mappings onto architecturally and historically significant buildings, 17 new murals by local, national and international artists, interactive light sculptures and a variety of live entertainment with more than 100 musical artists performing on six stages.

Blink is a biennial event. It was initially slated to be held in 2021, but the event was put on hold due to COVID-19, for health and safety reasons.

“Future plans are to keep it on a biennial basis, and that’s mostly because it takes us a while to make the event possible. We have to raise the funds, commission the artists, give them time to create their work, and manage all of the operations and promotions for the event,” Brookhart said.

This year’s theme is “Together: a constellation of shared cultures and unique identities; we illuminate joy through creative expression.”

The festival is divided up in various zones, including an “Over-the-Rhine Zone,” a “Findlay Market Zone,” a “Downtown Zone,” “The Banks Zone” and a “Covington Zone. Print and digital maps are available for guests. An event map is available online at www.blinkcincinnati.com.

Most of the light displays are between 3-8 minutes long, and run on a continuous loop, so guests can arrive anytime. With a few exceptions, each night will feature the same shows and art installations. The bands and live entertainment will vary each night. Visitors don’t need to start at a specific location. It is recommended to start at one Zone and experience one or two zones during a visit and return for more than one night. Guests can walk between installations. On the Cincinnati side, visitors can take the streetcar for free and exit at the various stops to view the installations.

New this year, the festival will partner with Sky Elements Drone Shows to put on a nightly drone show at Smale Riverfront Park. Presented by Altafiber, the drone show will happen twice, nightly.

“We are bringing Blink’s first drone show to the Ohio River. So, we have 300 drones that are going to be flying in formation twice a night…That’s a really exciting development for us, because we’ve never done any elements in the sky for Blink before,” Brookhart said.

Each show will last about 10 to 12 minutes, he said, and people will be able to view it from the Cincinnati side, along Smale Riverfront Park, and also in Covington, along the Covington Plaza area.

“Taking our Blink approach to a drone show, we wanted to do the things that felt true and authentic for us. So, we wanted to make sure we created a drone show that’s a big, spectacle experience, but really takes some artistry and design work into account,” Brookhart said.

How to go

What: Blink

When: 7-11 p.m. today through Sunday

Where: Downtown Cincinnati, spanning from Findlay Marking in Over-the-Rhine through downtown Cincinnati and into Northern Kentucky.

Admission: Free and open to all. No tickets are required except for the Architects of Air “Timisien” Luminarium, which is a ticketed attraction. Guided walking tours are also available for a $10 donation.

More info: blinkcincinnati.com

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