Get your glow on with these five light fests and installations

The Sydney Opera House comes alive with color light projections for last year’s Vivid Sydney festival.
(Peter Parks / AFP/Getty Images)

Lights and light festivals lend a certain glow to a city or a place. Here are five that can light up your life.


Sydney rocks the light art world every year. The city explodes in color with a three-week free Vivid Sydney festival in which dizzying, rotating images and lights transform the Opera House sails, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and several neighborhoods.

New this year is a water fountain that uses lights and laser to create an underwater experience. The festival also brings filmmaker James Cameron to the ideas stage, and rapper Ice Cube leads the musical side.

The festival starts May 25 and lasts through June 16.


Info: Vivid Sydney


“House of Cards” by OGE Group was featured in the last year’s Light City.
(Crystal Whitman )

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor takes a page from Sydney with its third Light City festival that also embraces light installations, music and ideas.

Along the BGE Light Art Walk, visitors will find lighted prisms, an underwater light installation, kinetic “whale ghost” and octopus sculptures with thousands of LED lights, and a work called “On the Wings of Freedom,” which features a field of small butterfly sculptures that change color as visitors walk by.


The free festival continues through April 21.

Info: Light City

U.S. and Canada

Llight up Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls lights change colors to mark holidays and special events.
(Lumileds )

If you haven’t been to Niagara Falls in a few years, you likely haven’t seen the light show at the spectacular waterfalls.

The falls have been illuminated since 1920, but two years ago LEDs were installed on the Canadian side that allow a range of colors. The lights project from three places: Illumination Tower, on the roof of Table Rock Centre and deep in the Niagara Gorge.

The cascades turn red and white on Canada Day (July 1), and red, white and blue on the Fourth of July. In April, the illuminated show operates from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Info: Niagara Falls Illumination


Tilikum Crossing in Portland, Ore.
(Lumileds )

On your next trip to Portland, take at least one evening to walk across the Tilikum Crossing over the Willamette River.

Installation artists Anna Valentina Murch and Doug Hollis designed the LED modules that beautifully light the cables, towers and underside of the deck.

The intensity and shades of the colors change according to a program based on the speed and temperature of the river water.

The bridge accommodates light rail, cyclists and pedestrians but not cars.

Info: Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People

DIY lantern fests

Folks are turning out to launch their own personal lanterns at Lantern Fests around the county. The idea is to light a lantern and let it loose en masse in the air or on water with your “highest hopes, deepest regrets, and fondest dreams,” according to the website.

Lantern Fests provide music, food and a lantern to launch (you can’t bring your own). Check the schedule for upcoming fests.

Depending on where you go, prices start at $35 per person but many are in the $50 to $60 range.


Info: Lantern Fest and Water Lantern Festival


Get our weekly Escapes newsletter