Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

    All of the Lights

    Oakland Festival of Lights puts festival atmosphere in family environment

    The second annual Oakland Festival of Lights took place Oct. 16–17. The Festival was sold out both nights, and festivalgoers were treated to a sonic smorgasbord and luminous landscapes as the Gardens at Lake Merritt were transformed by art and music to resemble a pastel-wonderland. 
    Ostensibly, the festival seems merely to give Burning Man artists the chance to show off their pieces while not encapsulated in a psychedelic dust storm for a week while simultaneously letting aging Gen-Y-ers with young children and no time to go to far away festivals to experience some of the sights and sounds of the world’s most notorious party. 
    But it wasn’t for the artists, and it wasn’t for the parents; there was something at this festival for everyone — no small feat in the event organizing world. 
    Instead of the obvious demographic pandering of, say, a music festival (or, on the flipside, a Raffi concert), the Oakland Festival of Lights brings it all home.
    Attendees gather around an installation at the Oakland Festival of Lights at Lake Merritt.There were parents rolling around three kids in two strollers rubbing elbows with awe-inspired snake people. People that would look at home in the dust of Hardly Strictly were chatting happily about the artwork with a couple that was dressed for the symphony. The demographic was difficult to pin down. 
    The art was almost as diverse as the clientele — there were paintings, photos, inflatable sculptures lit with osculating LEDs and a sculpture that shot fire. Wandering around, it was easy to get lost, but there was always something beautiful around the next corner. 
    The most ubiquitous piece of art wasn’t a static installation at all. Rather, it was a recent inception of the “Silent Disco,” where patrons are given wireless headphones so they can dance to the beat of the same drum, provided all your friends were on the same frequency. 
    The concept of the Silent Disco has been growing in popularity for the last few years, but is usually confined to one pen, or “stage.”
    At the Festival of Lights, however, the concept was taken and run with — literally. Instead of pinning down the headphones to a confined space, music lovers were free to roam around, dance, and see the festival with a whole new soundtrack. 
    The installations also had curated music, everywhere from downtempo dubstep to chill Cumbia, but it gave the festival a very “separated” feel, with the (LED) candle-lit pathways feeling more like portals to individual exhibits without an overarching theme (save, perhaps, light). 
    The headphones changed that, giving the event a more party-like vibe, with the revelers free to don their headphones, grab a glass of beer and prance around the festival in majestic bewilderment, while the crowd looking for a mellow night out with beautiful scenery and good conversation was free to enjoy just that. 
    So, no, the Oakland Festival of Lights isn’t Burning Man; it doesn’t even pretend to be. 
    Far away from the debauchery of the standard festival-romp, this is definitely a family-friendly environment. But if you are looking for a festival experience that doesn’t break the bank, or force you to live in the desert for a week in a loincloth, then the Oakland Festival of Lights is for you.

    Festival of Lights Photo Essay

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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