Western Canada’s largest video mapping festival, alongside outdoor displays of lighted artworks, has taken over parts of Victoria Park and the Beltline.
Calgarians can take in more than two dozen installations at BLVD Park, Central Memorial Park, Haultain Park, District at Beltline, and The Beltline Block through Sept. 30.
The festival features fire-breathing creations from True North Absurdities, video projections from B!G Art, and live art painting from Contemporary Vice among others.
“We’re really excited about it because this is our first inaugural,” said Hanan Chebib, a co-producer of the Night Light Festival, as well as a Chief Social Scientist and presenter with Social Studies Lab.
The fellow presenters of the first-ever festival were What’s Good and B!G Art.
“There’s lots of really amazing artwork that’s being shown on architecture you’ve probably seen around Calgary, here in Victoria Park,” said Chebib.
“It’s a great way to gather your friends, gather your family, and come down and explore the streets in the city.”
She said that the first ever showing of the festival was able to include the participation of 20 different artists—some local and some from overseas—with the goal of showcasing light as its own medium of art.
“It really is about trying to set up Calgary to become the place where light new light artists are cultivated and seated. And we want to be there to support for them and grow them as artists,” said Chebib.
The accessibility of light as a medium, said Chebib, transcends both expectations and language.
“We have a lot of Calgarians that live here. This is their community… and I think it’s really important for Calgary as a city to have these festivals that occur in spaces that maybe are a little unexpected,” Chebib said.
“We do want new Calgarians who… can walk out their door, and they can engage in what it means to be culturally a part of Calgary, and there’s no barriers for them to do that. They don’t have to necessarily read up on anything, or know anything about what it is. They can just again come across it and just be delighted.”
Chebib said that for people looking to take in the festival, there was no best place to start.
“I don’t want to choose a particular node because I think all the nodes are really great, but we were really conscious about trying to keep it walkable, or at least getting on your bike, and being able to get from one node to another,” she said.
“We walked the space many, many times really thinking about what it feels like for the audience and we really wanted it to be worth the effort.”
A map of the festival is available at www.nightlightvicpark.ca.
Shining a light on the BIA
The Victoria Park Night Light Festival was conceived as a way to build on the participation of the Victoria Park BIA in other festivals like Beakerhead, Glow, and Chinook Blast.
“The BIA decided that we need to do our own thing for us, because we piggybacked on Chinook Blast for a couple of years, and that was great. We piggybacked on other events over the years, but this is Vic Park-centric for sure,” said David Low, Executive Director of the Victoria Park BIA.
Most downtown festivals, said Low, tend to focus on Olympic Plaza as a natural gathering point for Calgarians. But as Calgary’s second oldest community, there was a desire to reconnect Calgarians to the community itself and not just other organizations.
“[CLMC], they call themselves the culture and entertainment district and—and no disrespect to the great work they’ve done—but we’re seeing this as a demonstration of what a very tiny little organization can do” said Low.
“If we can pull this off, then maybe it might be the catalyst for future events and to get our friends at CMLC on board with some more of these types of activations.”
Chebib echoed the sentiment about engaging visitors in a different way, saying that Victoria Park had been instrumental in amplifying the cultural and social aspects of those other festivals, but there was a desire to bring Calgarians down to Victoria Park itself as a destination.
“It’s really important that it showcases Victoria Park as an area as well, and we really want to draw people here to experience the restaurants, the cafes, and the great businesses that are here, but also to enjoy the spaces.”