Northern Spark To Light Up the Night June 13

When I became a mom, my definition of “staying up all night” took on a completely different meaning than it did when I was up all night with friends. Suddenly, staying up all night was not a good thing. Staying up all night meant feeling fuzzy-brained the next day, and putting my pants on backwards, and daydreaming about/obsessing over sleep, because when you have a baby—there’s no promise of a good night’s sleep in your immediate future and you start to worry that you’ll never sleep through the night again.

But now that my kids are 5 and (almost) 8 and the entire household is getting some much-needed shut-eye, I’m more likely to stay up until 4 a.m. hanging out with friends (ok, I did that one night last year when vacationing with college friends in Mexico, but hey! I did it!), and definitely more intrigued by events like Northern Spark, the Minneapolis dusk-to-dawn public arts festival happening June 13 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. The festival presents a way “to see the city in a new light” (to quote, the nonprofit organization behind the event). It’s “friendly crowds, ambitious art projects, an unexpected path through the urban landscape, a night of amazing experiences.”

Not only are there hundreds of artists’ projects—many site-specific—at multiple venues, including a light show at Northrop Auditorium and an interactive installation at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, but a “remarkable range of sound and music projects” including an audio mix-up at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and performances by Adam Levy and The Professors, Mill City Opera, Cloud Cult (outdoors on the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza!), and Brian Engel (of Hotpants and Hipshaker fame). Most events are free, but there is a fee for the pancake feed, hosted at Aria at the close of the festival (pancakes courtesy of The Bachelor Farmer and Al’s Breakfast). Tickets for the pancake breakfast are $25 at the door.

Northern Spark consists of different zones to check out: Zone A is the Minneapolis Convention Center, Zone B is Peavey Plaza, Zone C is Mill City and Mill Ruins Park, Zone D is the Walker Art Center, Zone E is MCAD and MIA, and Zone F is the University of Minnesota (Weisman Art Museum, Northrop, and The Bell Museum of Natural History). Tips on “making the most of your night hike” include wearing comfortable shoes, bringing weather-appropriate gear, traversing the festival by bicycle (just remember your helmet and headlamp), bringing a water bottle to stay hydrated, and packing snacks (for when you’re not stopping at a food truck). You can even bring your kids. According to my friend Kirsten, “It might not seem like a family-friendly event, starting at 9 p.m., but seeing the number of families strolling throughout the city in the middle of the night was almost magical. Many of the exhibits and activities were totally appropriate for children, and felt like a really special way to show your kids that the night and the city are a really safe and creative place.”

I’ve worked in Minneapolis for a decade, but have I ever wandered the city at 3 a.m.? No. I think this would be the perfect way to remedy that, all while having fun, feeling safe, taking pride in our incredibly creative community, and supporting local artists. I can justify staying up all night for this (even if it means having to take a nap on Sunday—if my kids will let me).

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