Every 2-3 years, the classic downtown city lights in Tampa get a special boost.
You might notice it as the sun begins to set and lights begin to wink from unexpected and new places…
When darkness finally settles, a more substantial glow comes from the Hillsborough River.
And even some of the buildings showcase a magical light display that causes you to stop and stare.
It’s all part of the Lights on Tampa event! The event is a public/private partnership between the City of Tampa’s Art Programs Division and the Public Art Alliance and was quite designed with the hope of [literally] shining a spotlight on Tampa, as a city and arts community.
Having missed the inaugural event the year I graduated college, and the subsequent shows since i didn’t live here at the time, I made a plan to experience this year’s event in-person. Completely free to the public, you can simply stroll on up to see the show at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, nestled amidst the very heart of the downtown arts and culture scene, between the Tampa Museum of Art, Glazer Children’s Museum and The Florida Museum of Phptographic Arts.
The lights almost beckon you in like a landing strip guides in planes. The beats of the electronic dance music being played are a good hint something’s happening too.
I took Nick as a little surprise, since he had no idea it was even happening! In fact, many people don’t know that the artistic light installations designed as part of this event over the years is actually how some of the more permanent lights around downtown Tampa came to be! Enjoying those lovely colorful lights as you walk under the bridges of the Hillsborough? That’s thanks to Lights on Tampa and they’re amazing artists.
This year, the event actually expanded to light up downtown for two nights and included some stunning light installations…
As well as interactive light experiences…
And even some performance.
We explored what seemed like every inch of the place before finally deciding our rumbling bellies needed to be pacified with some sweet-smelling, hot kettle corn.
We weren’t the only ones being drawn in by the aroma, so we got a bit silly while waiting.
And I practically dove into the warm bag when finally handed my order.
The night seemed like quite a bright success for LOT and apparently we can look forward to at least one of the displays becoming an addition to the new Tampa Riverwalk in future.
I’ve been positively beaming about this event to everyone I’ve talked to though and have some friends and family already planning for the next event to light up the city. Just a bit of a wait, as I think the earliest we can expect to see it would be… 2017?
I’ll be there… with lights on.