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BLINK will expand to include Newport in 2024

Illuminated drones form a blue spiral above the Ohio River, with Covington in the background.
Bill Rinehart
Three hundred drones from Sky Elements perform synchronized "dances" over the Ohio River two times a night during the 2022 Blink. The drone show is expected to return in 2024.

The art and light festival BLINK will expand to Newport this year. Executive Director Justin Brookhart says the details haven't been nailed down yet, but the Levee will be part of it, along with an installation near MegaCorp Pavilion and the Fourth Street Bridge, to connect the festival to Covington and Cincinnati.

Brookhart says the drone show was popular in 2022, and it will return this year. He says there's another display along the river that's called "SuperNova."

"We're going to be utilizing the latest in laser technology to shine a 100-foot long array of laser lights across the Ohio River," he says. "It will be parallel to the Roebling Bridge. So we'll literally be creating a bridge of light connecting our communities."

RELATED: 2022 BLINK generated about $126 million for the region

Brookhart says in the last BLINK, about 250 artists applied, and 71 were accepted to produce 101 projection mappings, murals, installations, and live performances. This year, the number of applicants has quadrupled.

"The exact number of installations hasn't been fully determined yet. We're having conversations with all of our artists. All the artists have been curated, and they've begun commissioning the work," he says. "We imagine a larger number than what we saw in 2022. But our goal is to make sure the experiences around those installations are meaningful and impactful. We're focused less on the number and making more sure everyone's having a meaningful experience."

An estimated 500,000 people saw some part of the event each of the four nights in 2022.

RELATED: BLINK to return to Music Hall in 2024

The president and CEO of MeetNKY, Julie Kirkpatrick, says BLINK is something that connects communities on both sides of the Ohio River. She says it also brings "new eyes" on the area.

"This event is a catalyst for our unique tourism partnership we have with Visit Cincy, to bring new visitors to our region. And they will see this area in a new way and in a new light," Kirkpatrick says.

BLINK started in 2017 in Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine. It expanded to Covington for 2019.

This year the festival is scheduled for Oct. 17-20.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.