BLINK to expand to Newport, further into Covington

Fans of Cincinnati’s world-famous BLINK festival will have a little more areas in Northern Kentucky to explore this October.

On Wednesday, organizers of the four-day art and light effects showcase announced their intention to expand the event’s footprint further across the Ohio River into Newport for the first time as well as new parts of Covington.

Attendees will experience new projection mapping displays at Newport on the Levee as well as other locations in the river city, including a unique installation near MegaCorp Pavilion and the Fourth Street Bridge, just steps from Covington.

In Covington, BLINK will bring back displays to popular spots such as Hotel Covington, but it’ll also move farther east to better connect to Newport. Organizers described it as a way to create a more immersive and continuous experience for attendees.

New this year in Covington will also be what organizers are calling a “laser bridge” display near the Roebling Suspension Bridge. This installation will use laser technology to cast a 100-foot-wide array of light stretching from Covington Landing to Sawyer Point on Cincinnati’s riverfront.

The added festival footprint is made possible by a financial investment from meetNKY, Northern Kentucky’s tourism and convention services bureau. Financial details aren’t available.

“BLINK is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to showcase the Cincy Region’s creativity, drive for inclusion and ability to create unique tourism experiences,” Julie Kirkpatrick, meetNKY’s president and CEO, said during a press conference at Newport on the Levee. “Through this investment, we are making this a truly regional event, which will help further illuminate the uniqueness and unbridled spirit of the Northern Kentucky communities.”

Joining Kirkpatrick on Wednesday were BLINK Executive Director Justin Brookhart and leaders from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, ArtsWave and the cities of Newport and Covington.

BLINK started as a Cincinnati-specific endeavor but expanded to include parts of Covington, Ky. in 2019. Brookhart – who came to Cincinnati in 2022 ahead of that year’s BLINK festival – described this latest move into Newport as being about “more than the location.” 

It’s also an opportunity to showcase the region’s creative energy by exposing people to art from around the region – and possibly the world – to the “magic” of Greater Cincinnati. The most recent BLINK festival featured 71 total artists – 18 international, 21 U.S.-based and 32 from across the region.

Brookhart expects all of those numbers to grow along with this year’s event space.

“Northern Kentucky artists are also part of this expansion, and we are eager to see how they take on these new creative opportunities,” he added.

BLINK lights up more of Greater Cincy

The biennial BLINK festival is set to return Oct. 17-20. When it does, organizers are hoping to build on a massive 2022 festival which attracted a record 2.1 million attendees from 29 different states. The Cincinnati Chamber credited BLINK with having a $126 million direct economic impact for the region.

For the second iteration in a row, BLINK illuminated 30 city blocks between Over-the-Rhine in Cincinnati and downtown Covington, Ky. with a variety of outdoor art experiences – street art, projection mapping, interactive displays and light-based installations.

The pedestrian-friendly event also featured live music, a food festival and arts and crafts for sale. In short, the Thursday-Sunday activation brought to life a region that otherwise may have experienced a sleepy weekend.

Further expansion this year of the BLINK could mean even more business for the Greater Cincinnati region.

ArtsWave “illuminates” BLINK with financial support. The Cincinnati Chamber, AGAR and the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr. Foundation are the event’s producers and curators in conjunction with partners ArtWorks, Cincy Nice and ish.

“BLINK drives cultural vibrancy in our region, and we are proud that region is expanding,” said Brendon Cull, president and CEO of Cincinnati Chamber. “Creating connection among attendees, creators, artists – and now, cities – is what BLINK is all about.”

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