6th Annual Portland Winter Light (non)Festival Lights Up Rose City

6th Annual Portland Winter Light (non)Festival Lights Up Rose City

Portland, OR.  The Portland Winter Light Festival is taking on an entirely new form this year to safely reflect our current pandemic reality. Instead of a large, centralized festival event, the 6th annual festival has modest pop-up light art installations throughout the city. It takes place over two weekends, February 5-6 & 12-13. Organizers say, “The expanded timeline and decentralized footprint will allow guests more space and time to view installations, minimize crowding, and allow for physical distancing while still celebrating light and art during the darkest time of the year. Installations are presented in windows, storefronts, and public spaces throughout the city.” Below are links to maps.

This year’s (non)Festival aims to continue building community by bringing art and technology to inclusive audiences during the pandemic.

There are Covid-19 safety guidelines: for a safer experience, it’s required that guests wear a mask at all times, observe social distancing, and follow all recommended protocols to protect themselves and others. Enjoy the art from six feet apart.

Organizers have collaborated with community members, artists, and businesses for 2021.

There are over FIFTY art installations (including Twinkle Trees, pictured above). It’s a free, all-ages, citywide experience. (Photo of Twinkle Trees by Brooke Hoyer. PDXWLF 2020)

From Willamette Light Brigade;
The Portland Winter Light Festival (a Willamette Light Brigade event), powered by PGE renewable energy, is a free, all-ages community-wide celebration illuminating the city’s public spaces with installations by premier light artists and designers. No tickets are needed for the festival. The Willamette Light Brigade is a Portland, OR-based nonprofit committed to connecting community and enriching the public realm by harnessing the power of artful lighting to transform the cityscape. We light bridges, produce a dynamic winter light festival, and advocate for the importance of night-time identity and place-making. The Willamette Light Brigade was founded in 1986 with a mission to enhance and beautify the city of Portland by lighting the bridges that span the Willamette River and therefore uniting the East and West sides of the city. Over the last two decades, the Willamette Light Brigade has successfully advocated for and facilitated the lighting of many of Portland’s iconic bridges, and continues to be part of long term planning for the bridges in the city of Portland.
2019 Portland Winter Light Festival Adding New Attractions

2019 Portland Winter Light Festival Adding New Attractions

Portland, OR. Starting on February 7th, more than 100 illuminated installations, artists, performers, interactive activities, and events will brighten the Portland cityscape for the 2019 Portland Winter Light Festival (PDXWLF). This free annual program of the nonprofit Willamette Light Brigade is expanding to its largest footprint yet. There will be many new attractions this year including:

  • A major expansion into the Portland State University, operating as a new self-supported site with over 20 installations across multiple venues (PSU Library, Shattuck Hall, PSU Urban Plaza, and others) featuring media including fire sculpture and large-scale video mapping.

  • ASL interpretation of returning Light Science Talks (Friday and Saturday only)

  • An expanded footprint that will feature over 20 art installations in Tom McCall Waterfront Park at Salmon Springs Fountain, including: Ivan MacLean’s Mirror, Mirror on the Ball (25-foot-tall disco ball covered in 1600 mirrors), Cheryl Leontina’s Stories Under the Bridge, a documentary profiling Portland’s homeless population, and EnlighTEN by Fresh Squeezed! (touch-reactive LED light poles, originally built for Burning Man 2018)

  • Live performances by Heidi Duckler Dance, Portland Opera resident artists, Classical Revolution PDX, Rowan Francis & the Billygoat and others

  • New interactive artworks such as the Chromosphere by Christopher Condrat (an animated sphere sculpture featuring 2,400 sound-activated LEDs), and Cosmic Fire Turtle by Richard Cawley and Portal Arts Collective (cosmic turtle with fire elements)

  • A water shuttle hosted by Portland Spirit & Events will ferry guests across the river on their Crystal Dolphin yacht all evening, and feature performances by the Portland Opera.

The festival is presented by Portland General Electric (PGE) and powered by PGE renewable energy. Here’s a video about the event from last year:

Gatto della Verita by Artist Sarah Brice. Photo by Brooke Hoyer.

Silent Disco. Photo by Brook Hoyer.

Homage to Trogdor by Ivan McLean. Photo by Amy Sakuria.

The 2018 festival attracted over 142,000 attendees and generated more than $1.85 million in goods and services spending in the city of Portland, according to organizers. The Festival presented over 100 installations, 70 performers, and 12 educational speakers and workshops. PDXWLF is an activity of the local non-profit, Willamette Light Brigade.

“The Portland Winter Light Festival showcases some of Portland’s best characteristics – especially its collective creativity and ingenuity. Whether it’s the interactive high tech light installations or the magic of fire and performance, for three nights PDXWLF captures Portland’s imagination and turns our nights into a magical landscape,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Drawing interest and recognition from across the region, the expanded 2019 artist roster showcases talent almost exclusively from the Pacific Northwest.  With its dazzling and unique installations and family-friendly atmosphere, the festival, now in its fourth year, has already established itself as a regional attraction for artists and visitors.

Details for the 4rd Annual Portland Winter Light Festival:

*Where: Eastbank Esplanade and OMSI grounds, west riverfront zone (Tom McCall Waterfront Park at Salmon Springs, PGE Headquarters/World Trade Center), PSU and more.

When: 6pm-11pm, February 7-9, 2019 (Thursday through Saturday nights).
Cost: Free.

How to get there: The Portland Streetcar will once again offer free rides on all routes after 5pm on every night of the event, and Portland Spirit’s Crystal Dolphin will ferry attendees across the Willamette River from Salmon Street Springs to Caruthers Landing. Most festival sites are located along TriMet stops. Parking is extremely limited. Alternate means of transit strongly recommended.

Volunteers are still needed for the big event. The application for PDXWLF volunteers can be found at www.pdxwlf.com/volunteer.

*For complete artist listings, programming, festival sites, and schedules, visit www.pdxwlf.com.

Circus Luminescence. Photo by Brianna Shade

Portland Spirit. Photo by Brooke Hoyer

Here are links to four different maps for the festival:


Eastside Zone

PSU Campus Zone

West Riverfront Zone

“The record-breaking attendance of last year’s festival demonstrates that the Pacific Northwest has a true desire for art, connection, and celebration during the coldest time of the year,” Willamette Light Brigade Board Member and PSU Professor Jeff Schnabel said. “The continued support of artists and attendees, year after year, serves to truly highlight what makes Portland – and this unique event – just so incredible.”

Popular festival features returning in 2019:

  • Fire, light, and sound- based artworks such as Tyler FuQua’s Psychedahlia Garden (12-foot-tall, Jurassic-sized, vibration activated flowers), F(Light) by Jen Fuller (150 hand-blown, glass “paper airplanes” suspended in midair with video mapping) and ACME’s Lite Brite Remastered (8-foot-tall interactive lite brite)

  • Light Science Talks educational series and Stories Around the Fire storytelling series

  • Participatory events such as the lantern parade, glow jam, and silent disco

  • Sustainable public transportation options including free rides on the Portland Streetcar and (new for 2019) rides across the Willamette on the Crystal Dolphin Ferry

From Portland Winter Light Festival:

The Portland Winter Light Festival (PDXWLF) is Portland’s premier outdoor winter art event that transforms, illuminates and animates Portland’s nighttime urban landscape. The 2018 festival attracted over 142,000 attendees and drove spending of more than $1.85 million in goods and services within the city of Portland. The Festival presented over 100 installations, 70 performers, and 12 educational speakers and workshops. PDXWLF is an annual program of the local non-profit, Willamette Light Brigade. The 2019 festival will take place February 7-9, 2019 at sites throughout Portland, and is proudly presented by PGE.