BLINK: Expect crowds, congestion

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Towers that will hold light projection equipment have popped up in downtown Covington.

4-night light spectacle transforms region into outdoor art museum 

COVINGTON, Ky. - Organizers say a million people visited Cincinnati two years ago for the inaugural BLINK light and art show.
 
This weekend, the larger 2019 version of BLINK extends into about 10 blocks of northern Covington in a big way, creating what organizers say is one of the most densely packed zones for art, light, music and food over the four nights.
 
"Those two facts alone should tell you - it's going to be crowded," City Manager David Johnston said.
 
Reiterated Police Chief Rob Nader, "Expect congestion."

City of Covington officials have been working with BLINK organizers, public safety agencies, transportation organizations and other partners to mitigate problems at the event, whose hours - officially - are 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.
 
But they say visitors can help by following these tips:
  • Come to Covington via bus, shuttle, rideshare or carpool.
  • Expect to walk between attractions.
  • Download the BLINK Cincinnati app for maps and other information.
  • Plan your visit and route ahead of time. 
"BLINK is meant to be enjoyed on foot," Nader said. "Do NOT anticipate driving between BLINK attractions, as we fully expect traffic in and around those areas to be moving slowly, if at all."
 
What is BLINK?
It's difficult to summarize. Basically, it's a free "festival" (although organizers shy away from that word) that uses projected lighting, immersive art, murals and music to showcase unique buildings and public spaces and turn the region into a massive outdoor art museum. The illuminating sponsor is ArtsWave, and it's produced by The Agar, ArtWorks, Brave Berlin, the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
 
Covington north of Seventh Street along Madison Avenue and Scott Boulevard is one of five BLINK's neighborhood zones, with the others in Cincinnati. See the BLINK website HERE.
 
Covington will have two "hospitality areas" - in the parking lot across from RiverCenter and on Seventh Street - which will include music stages scheduled with hour-long sets from dozens of bands.
 
In all, Covington will have more than 20 installations and attractions, including:
  • A dozen light projection sequences of 3 to 10 minutes each on continuous loops focused on The Ascent, the Octave (former German National Bank building), The Mutual Building, the BB&T building, the Faile and London Police murals, and other locations.
  • A coordinated music and light show featuring the Suspension Bridge, a la "RUMBLE: A Contemporary Voice for the Bridge that Sings."
  • A free concert by the rock group Grouplove.
  • New murals on the north side of the TANK garage on Madison Avenue and atop Point Perk on Pike Street.
  • A pop-up disco party featuring the World's Largest Mobile Disco Ball (there is an admission charge to this).
  • A light installation sitting on the Ohio River. 
Several Covington organizations - including Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center and the Hellman Creative Center - were among those that held workshops to prepare light accessories and other objects for Thursday evening's parade, whose route is entirely north of the Ohio River.
 
Road closures
The City of Cincinnati will restrict traffic on many streets in its urban core during BLINK, as seen HERE. Covington's restrictions on vehicles will be more limited: 
  • The Suspension Bridge will be closed starting at 7 p.m. to until 10 p.m. Monday, although pedestrians will be welcome. Oggo will also run a shuttle with its electric vehicles.
  • RiverCenter Boulevard from Scott Street to the Embassy Suites valet (just east of Madison Avenue) will be closed from 4 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Sunday.
  • Seventh Street between Madison Avenue and Washington Street also will be closed from 4 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Sunday. Traffic on Seventh during the daylight hours will be limited to one lane, and the "alcove" on the southern side of the street will be closed off during the entire four days. 
UV yarn is strung between buildings on W. Pike Street.


Transportation
Covington officials strongly urge visitors to use public transportation, a rideshare program or carpooling to get to and around the City. Options include:
  • TANK, Northern Kentucky's bus system, will provide direct service from Northern Kentucky University's Lot E to the Covington Transit Center at Third Street and Madison Avenue, with buses leaving every 15 minutes and costing $2. Details HERE.
  • Southbank Shuttle will provide service throughout the downtown area (with a route reaching into Cincinnati) at $1 a ride, with buses arriving every 15 minutes. Map, HERE.
  • TANK will also provide a special route Friday and Saturday to the Transit Center from The Center for Great Neighborhoods of Covington's "Party at the Bus Stop" get-together at Holman Street and MLK Boulevard (12th Street). Info, HERE
A good summary of the transportation information surrounding BLINK, including private rideshare information, can be found under the "Getting around" part of the event's website, HERE.
 
Covington Economic Development Director Tom West said BLINK will bring attention to two things Covington is known for - its historic buildings and its array of authentic, unique restaurants and bars.
 
"We definitely encourage visitors to not just enjoy the spectacle that is BLINK but also take a minute to check out Covington and patronize its businesses," West said. "They are worth experiencing."
 
Get connected
 BLINK, by the numbers:
  • 4 nights
  • 30 city blocks in 2 states split by 1 river
  • 100 installations
  • 39 project mappings
  • 16 new murals
  • 90 artists/artist groups
  • 80-plus entertainers
 
The new mural going up on the side of the Kenton County Parking Garage in the 200 block of Madison Avenue, as painted by Xylene.


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