The Cosmic Messenger by Miki Masuhara-Page Photo: Sean Gentry
Old Town Portland’s iconic white stag neon sign isn’t the only light brightening the City of Roses’ skyline this month. Now in its fifth year, the Portland Winter Light Festival (February 6–8) puts on light exhibits throughout the city and along the banks of the Willamette River. Inspired by the theme “Into the Dreamscape,” 12 local companies are sponsoring installations such as event production agency Henry V’s 100-square-foot color-changing light garden.
Along with a variety of other light exhibits by groups of artists, the festival is expanding its interactive and educational aspects. There will be several classes open to the public on the science of light, while a group of middle schoolers will be creating an exhibit that is meant to teach younger children a lesson about light.
While 130 artists are participating, many of the expected 200,000 visitors can contribute their own flair by donning illuminated costumes. “I like to plug it as a people’s festival, because they’re putting on the festival for themselves,” explains technical director Jean Margaret Thomas.
Visitors and locals alike get involved with the festival. Business owners have even been known to set up their own light installations during the event. Festival-goers are encouraged to bring out their flashiest attire for the event, but organizers are asking to keep sustainability in mind. Instead of stocking up on one-time use plastic glow sticks, try out rechargeable or battery-powered light attire.
As for why the PDXWLF takes place at the coldest time of the year? “This is when we really need each other,” says executive director Alisha Sullivan.