We’ve all had the experience of a night on the town where everything glows and pulses, a night in which the mundane facts of urban infrastructure magically transform into something more. Northern Spark captures that feeling and cranks it up, turning the city into a canvas for light and energy for a few captivating hours.
The fun begins at 9:01 pm June 14 and ends at 5:26 am the next morning. The hard part? Choosing what to do and see. With more than 100 projects spread out across Minneapolis, it seems like every institution and artist in town is in on the act. “We wanted to think about how the city could feel like a dynamic set of opportunities for people,” says artistic director and originator Steve Dietz.
Herewith, our ideal itinerary. It's ambitious, so have a nice nap during the day and bring plenty of water with you. We're taking Northern Spark by bike:
7 p.m. The official Northern Spark 2014 Launch Party begins at Orchestra Hall. It’s a cool $50 to get in, but you get to listen to the sweet sounds of Dosh (sans Andrew Bird) and snack on food from Travail, Marin, Black Sheep Pizza, and Sandcastle. There’ll be booze and espresso to fuel your night.
8:30 p.m. If you’re hoping to make a cheap go of it, skip the big shindig and start at the Minneapolis Convention Center for GRRRL PRTY before the official 9:01 p.m. start time of the festival.
9:01 p.m. Stay on the Convention Center Plaza for a collaborative drawing session with artists (and, you know, strangers). Everything you make will be simulcast on downtown architecture. No pressure.
9:15 p.m. Get out of there in time for the Greycoats’ performance at Le Meridien Chambers at 9:30, where they’ll play songs from their upcoming album, inspired by interstellar space flight. And yes, there will be levers to play with.
9:55 p.m. Head down Hennepin Ave. with a stop at the Basilica of St. Mary in time for a collective iPhone experience. Download the yet-to-be-released Leav app to listen to Holly Hansen of Zoo Animal talking about Minneapolis churches. Tune into Chris Koza as you bike down Hennepin and cut over to MCAD.
10:30 p.m. Your inner child is ready to stay out past its bedtime. Start in the main building, where you’ll find Andy Ducett’s installation why we do this, a maze of bubble wrap and popping balloons. The building’s skywalk houses Keetra Dean Dixon’s swing installation, best played with friends. And of course, FUTUREKAVE is waiting for your planet-molding dance moves.
12:15 a.m. Take a load off. Hitch a ride on the 2 bus from Franklin & Stevens Ave heading east, leaving once you’re over the river to the Weisman.
12:55 a.m. Step on the podium to channel your inner Mean Girl and direct the Gossip Orchestra in the Weisman Art Museum Plaza. Then it’s time to stumble into whatever course is on deck of the 100 Course Dinner on the Mall (dorm food, this ain’t). Try to get a good seat at the table so you can watch SuperGroup performing down the Mall while Brute Heart rocks in the background.
2:05 a.m. Cut over to the Stone Arch Bridge and see E/x MN from afar, a giant projection on the Gold Medal Silos by Luke Savisky for a once-in-a-lifetime view of the Minneapolis skyline. Follow the light you see burning outside the Whitney Lofts, where artist David Swenson has built a kiln for you to populate with tiny clay guardians. The North Star Lofts a block down Portland Avenue hosts Kate Casanova’s buggy collaboration Hotel Hotel, and we’re all for our local girl gone gross.
3:15 a.m. We’re back on W River Parkway to pass Third Avenue Bridge, under which HOTTEA has been toiling at his installation all evening. This is the thing you’ll want to brag to your friends about. A few blocks further, you’ll find beyond the LOOP, acrobatics and dance underneath the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, where you’re encouraged to move around to find the most Instagram-able vantage point. Don’t forget: #nspk14
5:00 a.m. Exhale. Look at the stars. You’re almost there.
5:30 a.m. The only way the pancake breakfast collaboration between the Bachelor Farmer and Al’s Breakfast could be better is if Prince himself showed up to serve them. Oh, and there’ll be a free bike valet outside Aria to sweeten the deal. Tickets are $25. We don't blame you if you have to grab an Uber home.