ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Do you have plans from  8:58 p.m. Saturday to 5:26 a.m. Sunday? Thousands of Minnesotans will be heading to St. Paul’s Lowertown for the Northern Spark Art Festival.

What’s up with the 8:58 p.m. start time and 5:26 a.m. end time? It’s an all-night festival. That’s the exact sunset and sunrise time according the the Farmer’s Almanac.

What would you do if you saw hundreds of glowing objects flying overhead in the middle of the night?

“We are taking water balloons and we are putting LED’s with batteries and magnets so they glow. We are launching them about 200 feet down range at an altitude of 120 feet, aiming at a 4 foot by 8 foot target,” said Sarah Peters, associate director of Northern Spark.

That’s one of the art projects you can see Saturday night into Sunday morning downtown St. Paul for the Northern Spark Festival.

“The idea is that we turn the city into a spectacle of art and wonder for one night,” Peters said.

Modeled after Nuit Blanche, and all-night arts and culture festival in Paris, works of art and performance will be on display from sun-down to sun-up in Lowertown. From Flamenco dancers to a burning building, this year’s event will feature 76 different projects, like the Foshaybuchet.

“It’s a type of catapult.  That means it throws things. This one is powered by gravity. It’s a see-saw with a bunch of weight on one end.  It looks medieval, it is medieval,” said Riley Harrison with the Hack Factory.

Harrison and David Bryan of the Hack Factory designed the catapult to look just like the Foshay Tower.

“It’s a toy for grown-ups,” Harrison said.

Then there’s Print Central Station, a group of printers who will hand-make personalized signs all night.

“We are hand-making directional arrows that might be a destination, but it might also be your aspirations – where you want to go, where you always intended to be. Where you hoped you might never end up.  Yeah, where you want to get out of,” said Ruthann Godollei, an art professor and print maker at Macalester College.

“Old-fashioned newspapers, posters and books were printed this way at one time.  Then artists get ahold of antique practices and keep them alive,” Godllei said.

Northern Spark celebrates art for one night, but community all year.


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