The Mid City area has a reputation for being Baton Rouge’s artistic and cultural hotspot. This reputation is thanks, in large part, to White Light Night, an open-air art festival that takes over sections of Government Street and Jefferson Highway every November.
This year’s festival, which marks its 21st anniversary, will be the largest one yet with over 70 participating businesses and over 200 local art vendors.
“As the Mid City area has grown, White Light Night has grown,” says Mid City Merchants board member Justin Lemoine. “All of the artists that live in the area have been given greater and greater exposure over the years.”
Although those new to Baton Rouge may assume that Mid City has always been the cultural hub it is today, that is not entirely accurate. Even though its renaissance is largely a recent phenomenon stemming from the recent influx of businesses into the area, it has always been home to a tight-knit artistic community.
“Mid City is fairly affordable in the grand scheme of things when you think about the cost of living in Baton Rouge,” Lemoine says. “Because of that, it’s an area where artists — painters, sculptors, jewelry makers, stained glass workers—have flocked to live. It’s home to a really diverse group of people.”
Each of the 70 participating businesses will open their doors to festival attendees, with at least one art vendor at each establishment. In addition to the offerings of local artisans and businesses, attendees of this year’s White Light Night can also expect food, beer, wine and spirits courtesy of local eateries, breweries and distilleries.
And, of course, it would not be White Light Night without live music. Performers slated for this year’s festival include Sarah Collins, The Real School of Music and 3 Lone Sharks, among others.
Looking forward, Lemoine and his fellow Mid City Merchants board members anticipate steady growth for the festival as the Mid City area continues to flourish both artistically and economically. Ideally, Lemoine says, the region’s continued growth will serve to foster growth in some of the underprivileged areas surrounding it. In this way, White Light Night’s cultural impact may not stop with Mid City — it may have a profound impact on the city of Baton Rouge as a whole.
“As Mid City’s growth continues to uplift some of the more depressed areas around it, White Light Night may grow or spawn off other events that will compliment it at different times of the year,” Lemoine says.
White Light Night will take place on Friday, Nov. 16, between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. The festival grounds cover the area between Jefferson Highway at Goodwood Boulevard and the intersection of Government and 14th streets. The festival is free to attend and a shuttle service will be offered at no cost.