Lumina Winter Festival Comes to Providence and JWU

Author Julia Shiels '24 is a Graphic Design major and works as a student assistant at JWU, contributing to JWU News.

The winter months in Providence can be dark, cold and leave you counting down the days until spring— but they don’t have to be! Luckily, Providence offers different kinds of events year-round. You always have something fun to look forward to, even in the middle of the winter. Lumina, a month-long festival celebrating light in the dark months, is currently happening right next to our Downcity campus. This event features a light exhibit and multiple winter activities. From now until February 20, anyone in the surrounding region — including JWU students! — can attend the Lumina festival in downtown Providence for free.

Students exploring the Creative Capital enjoy a traveling interactive public art installation in 195 District Park near the downcity campus.
JWU students have enjoyed exploring the interactive public art installations.

Nora Barré, the executive director of Downtown Providence Park Network, was a large part of the effort to bring the festival to Rhode Island. While living in Montreal, she witnessed a similar event to Lumina called Luminothérapie. Inspired by that event’s success, Barré brought the dazzling lights to Providence.

The centerpiece of the festival is the Prismatica light installations, but that’s not the only thing this event is bringing to the city. Throughout its month-long stay, Lumina will also offer ice skating, performances, lectures, panels, and dining opportunities with specialty Lumina drinks at surrounding restaurants.

Students exploring the Creative Capital enjoy a traveling interactive public art installation in 195 District Park near the downcity campus.

As a New England native who knows the dark, cold winters all too well, I was excited to have something out of the ordinary to do on a winter weekend. Some of the beautiful Prismatica lights were just a short walk from campus at one of my favorite locations, 195 District Park which also features the Pedestrian Bridge. Even though it was later in the evening, there were still lots of people braving the cold to see these colorful prisms with friends and family. There were also food trucks and performers all around the bridge.

JWU Student by Lumina light display.
Author Julia Shiels exploring the art installation. 

As I got a closer look at the lights, I realized that you can interact with them by spinning them around. Each spin offered a different display of colors in the prism as well as a soft jingling coming from the metal wind chime inside.   

After enjoying the lights, I went to eat dinner at one of the numerous restaurants located in downtown Providence. On the way to dinner, I walked past the Johnson & Wales Yena Center. Projected on the building were numerous artworks by some of Providence’s local artists.

Projection of local art on JWU's Yena Center.
Display of artwork by local artists projected on JWU's Yena Center.

This on-campus art projection is just one of the ways JWU is getting involved with the Lumina festival. On February 17 from 2-9 p.m., the JWU Culinaria Latina Club will be hosting a hot chocolate bar at the Bank Newport City Center. If you can’t make that pop-up, don’t worry — there is a full calendar of events every weekend of the festival! 

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