Published: September 24, 2019

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November 1-10 Celebration of Light, Art, Literature & Innovation Expands Festival Lineup to Include Lonnie Bunch, Founding Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and other Renowned Thought Leaders


BALTIMORE – Today, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) announces the addition of several new speakers and authors to the Baltimore Book Festival and Light City  lineup. This year, Light City unites with the Baltimore Book Festival from November 1 to 10 for a world-class celebration of light, art, literature and innovation under the theme of Brilliant Baltimore at the Inner Harbor. The festival’s recent additions include Smithsonian Secretary and founding Director of the African American Museum of History and Culture Lonnie Bunch in conversation with CBS News’ Bill Whittaker; Paralympian Jessica Long; former Baltimore police officer and Maryland’s Chief Investigator of political corruption Jim Cabezas; 2019 One Maryland One Book author and public health advocate Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha presented by the Maryland Humanities Council; authors and political organizers Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry and Minyon Moore; and Baltimore author Kevin Cowherd.


These visionaries and luminaries join an exciting roster of authors that includes Carla Hall, celebrity chef, television host of “The Chew” and author of Carla’s Food; activist and actor from the hit TV series “The Good Doctor,” Hill Harper; New York Times bestselling author Dave Cullen; international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction including Wakanda Forever, Nnedi Okorafor; Bravo Top Chef and philanthropist Sam Talbot; actress and film producer Karyn Parsons; social entrepreneur Chris Wilson; National Book Award winner Ibrim Kendi; and bestselling author and Baltimore native Barbara Bourland.


Uniting BOPA’s two marquee events, the Baltimore Book Festival and Light City, under the theme Brilliant Baltimore, creates the nation’s first and only celebration of light, art, literature, music, ideas and innovation. Together, these events will illuminate Baltimore from day to night with art, performances and events in 20 different Baltimore neighborhoods, including the Inner Harbor, and allow locals and tourists alike to experience the vibrancy and diversity of the city.


“Brilliant Baltimore will showcase Baltimore’s culture of innovation and creativity on a national and international stage,” said Donna Drew Sawyer, Chief Executive Officer of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts. “The city boasts a robust and gifted art community. This event illuminates Baltimore’s local communities and partnerships and provides residents and visitors an opportunity to experience world-class authors and art. Baltimore, in all of its brilliance, will be on display for all to enjoy.”


As the first American city to debut gas lighting in 1816, Brilliant Baltimore’s light displays will honor the city’s history of illumination through cutting-edge installations that celebrate Baltimore’s bright future. Festival goers will be inspired as the city transforms into an interactive playground where people of all ages can enjoy and experience the BGE Light Art Walk, performances, literature and works of art such as Human Tiles, a mega-interactive projection on the World Trade Center; Aerial Artistry, where 100 drones will dance above Inner Harbor; the Literary Marketplace on the waterfront; a Literary Salon of cooking demonstrations and samples; and Disco Bug, an art installation and dance party featuring thousands of tiny mosaic mirrors in a spectacular light show.


Produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, Brilliant Baltimore is made possible by ​Presenting Sponsor​: Whiting-Turner Contracting Company; Founding and Sustaining Sponsors​:​ ​City of Baltimore, BGE –Lead Founding Partner, T. Rowe Price, What Works Studio and WJZ-TV; ​Leadership Sponsors​:​ ​Brown Advisory, Baltimore Department of Public Works, France-Merrick Foundation, HASA, Maryland State Arts Council, Maryland Department of Commerce, McGuireWoods LLP and Pier 5 Hotel – Curio a collection by Hilton; ​Major Sponsors​:​ ​Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, Green Mountain Energy, Johns Hopkins University, M&T Bank, Too Far Media and Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore; ​Contributing Sponsors​:​ ​Atapco, Constellation, PNC Bank and Transamerica; and ​Community Sponsors​:​ ​Bowie State University, Cruise Maryland, Guinness Open Gate Brewery, The Herbert Bearman Foundation, Nora Roberts Foundation, Too Far Media, Towson University, UMES and Venable.


Visit the Brilliant Baltimore website and follow us Facebook,​ ​Twitter and​ ​Instagram to stay up on all the events, VIP happenings and awe-inspiring performances taking place this fall.




About Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts

The Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts (BOPA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which serves as Baltimore City’s arts council, events center and film office. By providing funding and support to artists, arts programs and organizations across the city, and by producing large-scale events such as Artscape, Baltimore Book Festival and Light City, BOPA’s goal is to make Baltimore a more vibrant and creative city.