Newburgh Illuminated Festival Returns After a Two-Year Hiatus | Branded Content | Festivals | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
click to enlarge Newburgh Illuminated Festival Returns After a Two-Year Hiatus
Photos by Brian Wolfe. Courtesy of Newburgh Illuminated Festival

In 2012, the then-newly elected mayor of Newburgh, Judy Kennedy, had the bright idea to host a free street festival to celebrate the city’s arts, culture, and heritage. Launched in June 2013, the Newburgh Illuminated Festival—a reference to Newburgh’s history as one of the first US cities to be lit by electricity—would shine a light on the hard work that the city’s residents, businesses, organizations had been putting into the city’s growth.

“I was always amazed by Judy Kennedy’s passion for the city that she was not from,” says June Henley, one of the festival’s founding board members. “That helped to relight the heart of this community.”

click to enlarge Newburgh Illuminated Festival Returns After a Two-Year Hiatus
Photos by Brian Wolfe. Courtesy of Newburgh Illuminated Festival

In the years since the festival began, the all-volunteer, grassroots group of community members and business owners who organize the event have turned the Newburgh Illuminated Festival into one of the Mid-Hudson Valley’s largest celebrations. By 2019, the festival reported its highest attendance ever—attracting more than 40,000 people to Broadway and Liberty Street for a daylong family-friendly celebration of music, art, dance, poetry, food, and more—and ensured its legacy as the city’s preeminent cultural event of the year.

In part, the festival’s success has also become a testament to the late Kennedy’s legacy as one of the most enthusiastic champions of the city. “When the mayor discovered the magic of this place and community, she immediately began a process of celebrating it—recruiting folks in the community to do our best and shine a light on the place we live,” says Paul Ernenwein, another festival board member. “It’s something we try to do today, almost 10 years later.”

click to enlarge Newburgh Illuminated Festival Returns After a Two-Year Hiatus
Photos by Brian Wolfe. Courtesy of Newburgh Illuminated Festival

This June, after a two-year, pandemic-induced hiatus, the festival is returning to celebrate Newburgh’s vibrant cultural and arts scene with the same spirit of inclusivity with which the event was originally launched.

Along the Broadway and Liberty Street corridors, you’ll find six outdoor performance stages featuring a diverse selection of the area’s live music acts and dance groups, with additional focuses on fashion and art. The Wherehouse, a restaurant and performance venue that helped establish the flourishing Liberty Street creative district, will be hosting intimate acoustic music shows while live DJs will be spinning at new sandwich and nightlife hotspot, Toasted Newburgh.

click to enlarge Newburgh Illuminated Festival Returns After a Two-Year Hiatus
Photos by Brian Wolfe. Courtesy of Newburgh Illuminated Festival

Broadway itself will be lined with over 150 of the Hudson Valley’s top food vendors, local makers, community organizations, and more. There will also be children’s activities, historical tours highlighting Newburgh’s prominent past, and an interactive art exhibition on the corner of Liberty Street and Broadway. New this year will be a classic car show, as well as fashion shows featuring regional designers on the Safe Harbors Green.

“This really is the city’s day to shine,” says Anthony Vesnaver, another festival board member. “Our hope is that everyone enjoys the day and feels renewed support for our local community organizations and businesses year-round.”

Newburgh Illuminated Festival will be held on Saturday, June 4 from 12pm to 10pm. It is free and open to all. For more information, visit Newburghilluminatedfestival.com.

click to enlarge Newburgh Illuminated Festival Returns After a Two-Year Hiatus
Photos by Brian Wolfe. Courtesy of Newburgh Illuminated Festival

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