Your Guide to BLINK Cincinnati (including my tips!)

Folks, mark your calendar for this one because BLINK Cincinnati is THE “not to be missed” Cincinnati event for 2019.

2017 BLINK projection at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
2017 BLINK projection at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

What is it?

BLINK is a four-day Cincinnati event featuring locations with large-scale projection mapping, murals, urban artscape, media light, interactive art and performers. One of the largest light, art, projection mapping events in the nation, BLINK is happening October 10-13, 2019 and will stretch across 30+ blocks from Northern Kentucky all the way up to Findlay Market.

At the simplest level, it’s a fabulous, giant light show! Our city’s buildings will come alive for BLINK as art meets light meets brick. A number of our existing ArtWorks murals will light up as Brave Berlin and various other creatives project light shows specifically designed for each mural. 16 Additional / new murals have been created just for BLINK 2019.

Want to see what it was like in 2017? Take a look at our montage of BLINK magic from the first event….

In addition to the 39 project mappings and 16 new murals in 2019, there will be 45 interactive installation locations stretching from Findlay Market south to Covington, Kentucky.

There will be over 80 entertainers performing on six stages across all the zones. There will be a free Saturday night concert by national recording artist Grouplove (at the River Center Stage). Other featured acts include: Redfoo, Pomegranates, Dudley Taft, Ernie Johnson from Detroit, The Cincinnati Opera, Willie Jones, Sun Seeker, Bendigo Fletcher, Young Heirlooms, Telehope, Rob Fetters, Harbour, Jess Lamb, JSPH, Carriers, Maria Carrelli, All Seeing Eyes, Lauren Eylise, Multimagic, Elementz, Dinosoul, Cincinnati Music Accelerator Buskers and many more.

When is BLINK Cincinnati 2019:

When: 7pm-11pm each night (October 10-13, 2019)
All shows and exhibits begin at sundown – approximately 7pm – and run until 11pm.

Do I Need Tickets?  

BLINK is free and open to the public. You can go all evening without spending a dime if you wish (other than parking).

There are a few “ticketed” opportunities this year including a special VIP Experience. In addition to that, Architects of Air returns to Washington Park again this year with “Dodecalis”, a ticketed attraction.

The BLINK Parade

The Future City Spectacular Parade will kick off BLINK and will be on Thursday, October 10, 2019 starting at 7:30pm. The parade will go south on Vine Street, starting at 8th Street and ending at Rosa Parks Street / West Freedom Way. The parade’s grand marshal will be Jean-Robert de Cavel, world-renowned chef and humanitarian.

There will be many city streets that are closed to vehicular traffic during BLINK. The City of Cincinnati put together a map to show all the street closures – find the road closure map here.

My Tips for BLINK (from having been there EVERY night last time!):

Come Prepared to Walk:

Wear your most comfortable shoes because you’re going to walk A LOT. Last year we were fully prepared to take the streetcar from the Findlay Market area (where we parked) down to The Banks and work our way back up. But that was impossible. The streetcar was packed like sardines. Literally. And there were so many people that the streetcar moved at the pace of a snail. We walked as fast as the streetcar moved. Not kidding. I hope there’s a solution to that problem this year but I’m not planning on it and I’ll be fully prepared to walk wherever I need to go.

The streetcar will be free during BLINK this year. Other available modes of transportation include the Bird Scooters and Red Bikes as well. Personally, I would not plan to on those as you will need space to ride them. And there’s no space to ride them. There are tons of walking people… all the people! Prepare to walk it.

Make Your Plans For What You Want to See Before You Leave the House:

We went for multiple days and broke up the event by area. Thursday we concentrated on The Banks up to about The Aronoff Center. The next night we stayed in the Washington Park area and ventured down to the Garfield section. The next day we did the Findlay Market displays. And on our last day we hit a few various spots that we missed and still wanted to see.

The BLINK Event Map can be found here. Use it to find all the zones you might want to visit. In addition to the 5 zones, the map shows the streetcar path and its stops, the parade path, as well as the hospitality areas.

You might also like:
Daytime Events Happening During BLINK

Get your phone ready:

You should download the BLINK Cincinnati app (App Store / Google Play). The app matches your location with nearby installations and experiences. It will show you the hot spots around town. It even has five curated walking tours to help you make the most of your time at BLINK.

You might also want to practice some night-time photography. Here are a few free options: iPhone Night Photos and Google Pixel’s Night Sight.

What’s the Best Time to Go? 

Any time! All projection mapping shows are between 3-10 mins in length and are on a continuous loop so you can arrive at any time.  Each night will feature the same projection shows and art installations. The only exception is the parade which will take place on Thursday (see parade info above).

Where Should I Park?

We split up our areas and parked accordingly (see paragraph above). My advice would be to park in the outskirts and walk in to the areas you want to see. That being said, we walked all the way from 14th down the The Banks and back on the first night and we lived to tell the tale.  🙂

If you park at a meter be sure to check the hours and days that you have to pay to park. Most (all?) of the downtown metered parking areas require payment every day, including Sunday. And I believe they all require payment until 9pm.

What to Take:

Take a water bottle and a snack. There are lots of spots with food trucks and drinks and beer but we walked A LOT and a water bottle was a welcomed addition. Snacks would be a fine idea too. Restaurants were slammed last time and while they do have lots of food options, it’s nice to have something ready in case the lines are too long.

BLINK Cincinnati is free and open to the public. BLINK is produced by Agar, ArtWorks, Brave Berlin, The Carol Ann and Ralph V Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.

Disclosure: Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is a paid sponsor for the 365Cincinnati brand.

4 thoughts on “Your Guide to BLINK Cincinnati (including my tips!)”

  1. I have 8 and 10 yr olds that have no patience, so I have to plan well. Which areas are good to see during the day and which areas are far better at night? I’m thinking of starting late afternoon and staying for an hour or two of darkness. I don’t want to miss the best stuff. Any advice is appreciated.

  2. The light shows don’t start until 7pm so keep that in mind (not sure what time you’re thinking of starting). Washington Park has the Architects of Air attraction that’s open until 7 so you could start there. Be aware that it’s the only thing that is NOT free; it’s $5. It is super cool though. Washington Park has a number of things to see and do. But there’s a lot to see around the Freedom Center (at The Banks) including the teeter totters which your kids will LOVE. We did not run into terrible crowds last night (except for the parade and that’s over now). If you can buy streetcar passes for everyone ($1 for two hours or $2 for all day), you could get on and off depending on the crowds at different areas. One tip: take a bag with waters and snacks. I wish I’d done that!

  3. Event sounds very interesting, but wish that there was a way to print out the map of the Event Guide and Map. All my attempts including doing a Print Screen and then cropping to fit WORD result in details and wording that are too small to read. Maybe next year you could make the Map and Legend into a couple of sections that would print easier.

  4. Please have your event where there aren’t any other major events going on. This was the opening weekend for the Cincinnati Pops, and it was more than challenging to find parking. It was very frustrating for those who attended the concert.

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