Nuit Blanche in Kingston

Nuit Blanche MontrealThis past weekend, Toronto played host to Nuit Blanche, an all-night contemporary arts festival that is hosted at a variety of untraditional venues across the city. The origins of Nuit Blanche are heavily disputed as cities such as Paris, Berlin and St. Petersberg lay claim to founding the event.  Nowadays, over 120 cities, including Toronto and Montréal, host their very own Nuit Blanche style of event where artists take over the city, using everything as a canvass.  Unsuspecting audiences are treated to oversized installations ranging from 1,500 foot-long human sculptures snaking through the streets, to interactive light shows staged from highrises, and even impromtu snowball fights with strangers.  The question is, would Nuit Blanche work in the Limestone City?
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Regular and one time only events such as Art After Dark, The Happiness Project, Mouthy and the Multicultural Arts Festival are proof that Kingston has both the talent and audience to receive a production that resembles Nuit Blanche.  Throughout last weekend’s event in Toronto, I was amazed by the number of folks on Twitter and Facebook who were thoroughly enjoying and connecting with their local arts scene.  I was also surprised to learn that some of my friends, those who don’t regularly frequent arts and culture events, were out in full force to take in the all-night art shindig.  While the spectacle of Nuit Blanche is a sight to behold, the idea that it can attract a new, untraditional crowd is equally as impressive.

So what are your thoughts on a Nuit Blanche in Kingston? Should we start small and see what kind of support the event gets, or jump in with both feet and let artists take over the city for an evening?  Would you attend or get involved?  Special thanks to Meantux for today’s accompanying photo of Nuit Blanche dans le Vieux Montréal.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

13 thoughts on “Nuit Blanche in Kingston

  • Kingston should definetely host nuit blanche! It's a way for people to interacte, open your mind and explore previously unexplored pockets of the city!

  • I agree, this would be a great event for Kingston. We have so many wonderful artists and musicians to show off and this kind of event would bring people in from all around. I wonder if the City is a bit too uptight for this sort of thing though….

  • There's no reason why a small city like Kingston can't have some kinds of more interesting public art events. It's not so much the size of the city that matters, as the imagination of the city government and the possibility of sponsorship that limits the possibilities. Unfortunately the former is certainly lacking in Kingston – and perhaps the latter too.

  • Obviously Kingston's Nuit Blanche would be much smaller than Toronto's, but it shouldn't be very expensive to do – it should be easy enough to recruit volunteers to make the art.

  • Me and few other people on Twitter that night had never heard of this before. including someone in Vancouver. If I hadn't heard of it then no chance most of the city council would have.

    As for here, if right now we can't even have an official Queen's Homecoming in the fall I can't see them giving the OK for this. They would look at it as another chance for trouble to be caused on a Saturday night. Especially if it's so close to the "fauxcoming" and increased police presence. Council taking a chance on an overnight event after the headaches of Aberdeen doesn't seem like it would be in the cards.

    • What kind of logic is that? Just because you and select councillors are unfamiliar with the concept doesn't discredit the viability of a Nuit Blanche in Kingston. As for your comparison of Nuit Blanche to Faux/Homecoming, they're apples and oranges. Montreal doesn't have to break out the riot squads to thwart Nuit Blanche goers, however they usually have to release the hounds and tear gas during the NHL playoffs. Similarly there's not a noticeable police presence in Toronto during their Nuit Blanche, and that's because the art expo is not an illegal street party loosely hosted by university students. Nuit Blanche is a community event, that's carefully organized by artists, curators, and city officials. It involves long lines, scheduled performances, and for most people, it has very little to do with the mass consumption of alcohol. That's not to say that people don't drink during Nuit Blanche, rather they're respectful enough to ensure that their behaviour won't make the headlines the next day and spoil the event for year's to come.

    • Never heard of Nuit Blanche?! Thanks for proving my earlier point…

  • Not quite apples and oranges. Homecoming as an event is Queen's alumni returning to down and everyone enjoying a football game. Was the Aberdeen street party something organizers came up with? No but it was a by-product of it. Most of Homecoming people behave themselves but not all. Two articles on Toronto's event. Both mostly about the art, but the drunks are there.

    “F— it, man, the bars are open until 4 — let’s get some beers!

    "..the sidewalks in the area were virtually impassable due to the flood of drunk partiers hitting the streets all at once when the bars shut down"

    First I read about it was this Toronto blog and their comments. Sounds like it was about the art the first year but a lot of people talking about the drunkeness this year. Sounds like they are starting to overrun the event. Hmmm, rowdy drunks ruining an event. That sounds familiar. :)

    • Yepp, apples and oranges. I'm not convinced that the "let's get some beers" comment proves much, save for some folks taking advantage of the bars being open later. As for "drunken throngs" and "the flood of drunk partiers…" observations, that's really no different than any given night after the bars shut down in Toronto, Kingston etc… I am sure you could have easily obtained the same types of sound bites during World Cup to show how evil it was to open the bars earlier than normal.

      If Kingston were to consider organizing Nuit Blanche, I hope that they would incorporate some of TO's lessons learned and not extend bar hours, lay on extra transpo etc… Clearly the former is not working for them. That said, I still see no reference to riot squads, ballooning police costs, burning cars or destruction of public property. Save for a few extra drunks, there's not a lot to draw a legit comparison between Nuit Blanche and Aberdeen. And from the rest of what I've read, in spite of the booze, Nuit Blanche was far from ruined.

  • Well put Harvey. I know people who were in Toronto on Saturday and this is the first I've heard about any crazy, overt drunkenness. Clearly it wasn't a wide spread issue or different from any Saturday night. And yes, as Harvey said, let's learn from that. Why do the bars need to be open later? They don't. In fact, have the bulk of the displays set up away from main strip. What makes Nuit Blanche exciting is seeing art in unassuming places, not in their galleries. Make the bars close at their regular time and set up the displays in places like City Park, Confederation Basin, McBurney Park, Queen's campus.

    Those who really want to drink will bring travelers and there's not much you can do to stop them but they'll run out fast -of both booze and energy. I know very few people who can get hammered enough to cause trouble and keep it up all night and for those who do, normal Kingston police should be able to handle the job like any other weekend.

  • The Kingston Arts Council is bringing Toronto's Programming Manager of Special Events, Julian Sleath, to Kingston for a talk. He is responsible for a wide range of events including Nuit Blanche. He'll be speaking at Studio 22 across from Market Square on February 12th at 7pm. Tickets are $10. You can find out more here:

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