Correction 4:46 p.m.
The four-night light and art phenomenon known as Blink starts Thursday, with projection mapping, sculptures and murals on display from Findlay Market to Covington. Organizers say there's more to see this time around.
Steve McGowan with Blink co-founding organization Brave Berlin says a lot of people thought this year would be a repeat of 2017. He says that's not the case at all.
"There are a few repeat buildings, but with different artists. And there are a few repeat pieces of art and projections, which were crowd favorites, so we thought we would bring those back. We're at 39 projection mapping locations throughout Blink," McGowan says.
Brave Berlin partner Dan Reynolds points out that's nearly twice as many as the original event. He says last week he reviewed the projection mapping entries. "It is jaw dropping. It's just better than anything we've ever seen in the past. A lot of them are incorporating sound more than ever."
That includes the Roebling Suspension Bridge, which will be illuminated in sync with music developed with sounds made on the historic bridge.
McGowan says including the Roebling was a goal from the very beginning. "We just didn't know when, or when the timing would be right. When we added Covington to Blink, we thought 'Wow, this connection point of the bridge would be the perfect time for us to bathe her in light and tell the story of the Roebling bridge.' "
Blink doesn't stop at the Roebling. Covington has 12 projection sites, five installations, a new mural and a concert zone, featuring the world's largest portable disco ball.
Alecia Kintner of ArtsWave says Blink is broken up into zones. Covington is one. The other four are The Banks, Downtown, Over-the-Rhine and Findlay Market.
"There's no one right way to get going on Blink. You just have to pick a place and go. Find the zones on the Blink app, the Blink zone map, or by following the high shining beacons located in each of the zones," she says.
The app, which you can get on Google Play or the App Store, and the map show the location of 39 projection mapping sites, 45 installations, 17 new murals, and six stages with live entertainment. But there's also at least one unofficial participant that isn't on the map.
Miami University's Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine has developed its own projection mapping display near Vine and 13th. Brendon Cull with the Chamber says the more the merrier. "We expect there will be a little of that. We expect that there will be some people going rogue for Blink. We think it's great. There's just a ton of stuff happening and we want people to be creative and have fun with it," Cull says. "Dress up. Have a great time."
Blink stretches almost two-and-a-half miles from north to south, as the crow flies. There will be a number of streets closed in Over-the-Rhine and Downtown for the event, so Eric Avner with founding partner the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile/US Bank Foundation points out you won't be able to experience the festival while driving. "Take transit Downtown from one of the park and rides. And then walk," he says.
"Because this was a free event, we thought it was only appropriate that the streetcar also be free," Avner says. The Haile Foundation announced in September it would sponsor free rides all four nights of Blink. The foundation is an underwriter of the streetcar system, and of Cincinnati Public Radio.
For Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, the streetcar route will be closed to pretty much everything but the streetcar. Metro and TANK buses and the Southbank Shuttle will run through the Riverfront Transit Center, because Government Square will be closed for a projection. There will be shuttles to get people across the Roebling Bridge, which will be closed to other vehicles.
An estimated 1 million people visited the first Blink. Organizers say they expect at least that many this year. Blink starts Thursday at about 7:30, with a parade down Vine Street, from 8th to Freedom Way.
A previous version of this story transposed Dan Reynolds and Steve McGowan.