How to Experience Northern Spark
Prepare for the free public art festival on June 15 and 16 in downtown Minneapolis by planning must-see art, transportation, where to eat, and more!
(Minneapolis, MN) May 31, 2018 — The eighth annual free Northern Spark festival will illuminate public spaces in downtown Minneapolis on the nights of June 15 and 16. Learn more about what art to experience, what to eat, transportation, and more at the festival. For full details about the festival and ongoing updates, visit 2018.northernspark.org.
Explore Art Projects
Your experience starts with 28 dynamic art projects exploring the theme Commonality! Visit our art and events page to learn more about each of the projects. This year’s festival features the Creative City Challenge Winner, Carry on Homes in The Commons.
The venues for Northern Spark 2018 are in downtown Minneapolis:
Find Northern Spark art, food, info tents, and bathrooms on our interactive map: 2018.northernspark.org/attending-2/maps
Dates and Times
In 2018, Northern Spark will take place over two nights, the third weekend in June until 2 am each night:
- Friday, June 15, from 9:02 pm to 2 am
- Saturday, June 16, from 9:02 pm to 2 am
Programming is the same on Friday and Saturday unless noted on each project description. Plan your night(s) using these tools or just wander and discover!
Customize your list of art projects to see, including times and locations, with the My Night feature. Click on My Night in the sidebar menu and simply log in with your email address to start building your schedule. Or click the hearts next to each project listing. And remember, this website is mobile ready and holds all the information you need on the go – project listings, maps, timed events, and more.
Connect with us for the latest #NorthernSpark news and updates:
Northern Spark Information Tents are a great way to get essential questions answered. Info Tents have maps, night-of festival updates, first aid supplies, and large print maps. Stop by and chat with a friendly volunteer. On each festival night, look for a red or white tent with lights in these places:
- Outside of the Minneapolis Central Library on Nicollet
- On Xcel Energy Plaza on Nicollet between 4th and 5th Streets
- On the west side of The Commons
Look for the Red Flags
Once you’re at a festival venue, all projects are marked by tall signs with red Northern Spark flags. Inside Minneapolis Central Library look for additional stanchions with wayfinding and project information.
Some projects are in unconventional spaces and may not have ADA access. Projects identified with a wheelchair symbol are ADA accessible. All festival venues are ADA accessible. Other accessibility resources include:
- ASL interpretation of the 2018 Creative City Challenge Launch on Friday, June 15 at 8:30 pm.
- Large print festival maps; find at a Northern Spark Information Tent.
Transportation to and around Northern Spark
This year’s Northern Spark takes place entirely in downtown Minneapolis at the Minneapolis Central Library, Nicollet Mall and The Commons park. Travel to the festival by train, bus, bike, or foot and then walk or bike between venues.
Ride Metro Transit free to Northern Spark!
- Download a free pass for each night.
- Festival venues are near multiple Metro Transit lines. The nearest Light Rail stations are Nicollet Mall Station (Blue Line) and U.S. Bank Stadium (Blue and Green Lines). Multiple bus lines stop along Nicollet Mall.
- PLEASE NOTE: Metro Blue Line will be down for service the weekend of Northern Spark. Free shuttles will replace Blue Line trains.
- Metro routes end at varying times. Regular fares apply, unless you download a free pass or take a Blue Line shuttle.
- Plan your trip: metrotransit.org/tripplanner
- Call 612-373-333 or TTY 651-291-0904.
Bicycling is a great way to travel to and between festival sites. Don’t forget a bike lock, light, and helmet! Find permanent bike racks at the Minneapolis Central Library and along Nicollet.
- Temporary bike racks are on Portland Ave. at The Commons. All bikes must be removed from temporary racks by 2 am each festival night.
- Find Nice Ride stations near downtown Minneapolis at niceridemn.org.
Portland Ave between 4th and 5th Streets will be closed to traffic from 6 pm to 3 am on June 15 and June 16 for festival activities.
Metered street parking is available throughout downtown Minneapolis and there are many parking ramps near to festival venues.
Where to eat and drink
- Art on the Rooftop: Join Northern Spark’s 8th annual benefit party on June 16, 7 – 10 pm at Le Meridien Chambers Hotel! Indulge yourself with artisanal food and drinks, while jamming to music from DJ Sarah White and experiencing unique interactions with Northern Spark artists. Mercy Bar & Dining Room will offer VIPs a dining in the dark experience led by Chef Arich Miech. All general tickets include artisanal bite-sized food and drinks from Crooked Water, Fulton Beer, Hyacinth St Paul, Parallel Cafe, Mill Valley Kitchen, Rain Ate My Cake, and DR49 restaurant group (Le Fresca, Cafe Ena, Costa Blanca Bistro). Get tickets.
- Food trucks and restaurants. Check out the many food truck vendors at Northern Spark!
- Fulton Tent
Serving Fulton Beer from 9pm – midnight in The Commons.
Northern Spark happens rain or (star) shine. Bring a jacket for later in the night as the temperature cools off. Visit northernspark.org and follow us on social media for night-of changes due to weather.
Pro Tips for Having a Great Night(s)
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Bring weather appropriate gear and layers of clothing.
- Download your Metro Transit Free Ride Pass here and ride to the festival.
- Stay hydrated!—bring a water bottle to fill up at a fountain at the Commons or Minneapolis Central Library.
- Fuel up—bring snacks to eat and enjoy festival food truck offerings.
Northern Spark Background
Since 2011 thousands of Minnesotans and visitors have enjoyed Northern Spark, an annual arts festival illuminating public spaces in Minneapolis and St. Paul. In early June, tens of thousands of people gather to explore giant video projections, play in temporary installations in the streets, and enjoy experimental performances in green spaces. Late into the night the city surprises you: friendly crowds, glowing groups of cyclists, an unexpected path through the urban landscape, the magic of sunrise after a night of amazing art and experiences.
Northern Spark is known as a dusk-to-dawn event. In 2018 we are experimenting with a two-night model for attendees to experience the artful magic of Northern Spark for two nights in a row until 2 am.
Memorable projects from past Northern Spark festivals include Chris Larson’s Celebration/Love/Loss, Jim Campbell’s Scattered Light, Luke Savisky’s Ex-MN, Pramila Vasudevan’s Census, and countless other projects from artists such as: Ananya Dance Theater, Marina Zurkow, HOTTEA, and Million Artist Movement.
Northern Spark is produced by Northern Lights.mn, a Twin Cities non-profit arts organization whose work ranges from large-scale public art platforms like Northern Spark to Art(ists) On the Verge, a yearlong mentorship program for 5 emerging artists working with digital culture. We support artists in the creation and presentation of art in the public sphere, such as at St. Paul’s Union Depot (Amateur Intelligence Radio), “choir karaoke” at the Minnesota State Fair (Giant Sing Along) and most recently Illuminate South Loop, a mini outdoor festival of nine interactive projects in Bloomington, MN’s South Loop in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. Through projects such as Ruination: City of Dust, a location-based environmental mystery game, and large scale festivals themed around social issues, our work helps audiences explore expanded possibilities for civic engagement through art.
To view Northern Spark 2018 Funders & Sponsors, click here.