Light up the night with Northern Spark

Northern Spark, the Twin Cities’ annual all-night cultural festival, gets underway Saturday night.

Attending Northern Spark is akin to witnessing what Minneapolis would be like if it was ruled by artists. For one night, art simply takes over;  if you’re out wandering the streets you’ll see video projections on the walls of buildings, people dancing and singing, and you’ll have numerous opportunities to make your own art.

Ex/MN, one of the many projects that make up Northern Spark (Photo  courtesy Aurora Picture Show)

This sort of all-night event is not unique to the Twin Cities. Russia has had what they call “white night” festivals for years to celebrate their short summer nights. But it was in France in the 1990s that they turned the white night or “nuit blanche” into a full-blown all-night artistic event, in which the entire city is turned into a gallery space.

Since then such all-night festivals have popped up in cities around the world, and Northern Spark is just such an event.

The festivities get started at 8:3o p.m. Saturday with an opening ceremony of sorts over at the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza, and there will be dozens of performances and activities to choose from all night, right up until sunrise at 5:26 a.m. Sunday.

Because the event is so spread out and open, people have many options in how to approach the festival, depending on their mode of transportation and their energy level.

People on foot might want to to explore one major area of the festival, like the west river parkway, and see everything that’s available to do there.

Avid cyclists can bike down the Midtown Greenway and see all the events located at different points along the route.

People with cars will have the ability to hop around to different hubs of activity, from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and MCAD over to the University of Minnesota, and any or all points in-between.

The Northern Spark’s website has a line-up of all the events, plus maps so you can plan out your night in advance — or you can just wander around and see what you come across.