Five years ago, a crowd gathered in front of Gallier Hall to witness a 12-minute light show unlike any other in the New Orleans area. The breathtaking spectacle, a projection-mapping installation, was part of the inaugural Light Up NOLA Arts Fête. This year, the sprawling event boasts twice as many glowing light works — more than 20 — by local and international artists, and scattered along a sliver of space in the Warehouse District.

The 4th annual LUNA Fête is presented by Pan-American Life Insurance Group and produced by the Arts Council of New Orleans. It runs until Saturday, Dec. 9, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Lafayette Square and along Lafayette Street.

This “Tricentennial Signature Event” has become the longest-running, large-scale projection mapping festival in the nation.

“This year, we more than doubled the number of installations from last year. And a lot of that has to do with our local artist training,” said Lindsay Glatz, director of marketing and communication for the Arts Council. “It's important for us to incubate the local artist talent and showcase their work.”

During LUNA Fête, a projection-mapping installation will turn the façade of Gallier Hall into a cross-cultural celebration, highlighting the connections between Mexico and New Orleans. AVA Animation and Visual Arts, a group based in Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico, is behind the dazzling presentation.

Projection shows begin at the top of each hour and are followed by a laser show.

Guests also will discover illuminated artwork along Lafayette Street.

“Neon Rivers” features a series of glowing LED tributaries, where light reacts to pedestrian movement, while “Passage” comprises 20 interactive circles of light.

For “Constellations,” the band Kirasu created a “visual documentation” of its music, Glatz said.

“The beautiful, and also sad, aspect to this piece is that one of the contributors, David Rosser, passed away while they were working on the project,” she noted. “He used to say that we’re all made of stars.”

The installation allows guests to walk inside and listen to Kirasu’s music, as motion sensors track the shape of your space and create a constellation out of your body.

“Even if people knew nothing about the behind-the-scenes side of the project, they would absolutely appreciate it. But knowing the meaning of that piece makes it really special,” Glatz said.

This year, the Arts Council is expanding its youth programming through partnerships with Isidore Newman School and Electric Girls — an organization that empowers the next generation of female innovators and leaders in technology.

Newman will showcase its students’ work through a series of large, interactive LED weather balloons. Each balloon has a different theme.

For example, one changes colors when you pull on its string. Another will flash and rumble like thunder once it senses your movement.

Electric Girls will host two exhibits at LUNA Fête; both were designed and created by 12 girls over the course of 13 weeks.

One exhibit is an interactive mural, composed of small LED lights. Visitors can walk by, power a bulb and ultimately contribute to the mural.

The other exhibit, “Spiralux,” is plexiglass structure that resembles a winding staircase, composed of LEDs that react to nearby motion, by changing colors.

“It's not very often that we can show what we do and what these girls are capable of, to an audience of this size,” said Flor Serna, the founder and executive director of Electric Girls. “(LUNA Fête) will help the girls recognize that their skills are unique, and something that they should be very proud of.”

LUNA Fête also includes a market, presenting works by local artists and dance performances, along with food and refreshments.

For the first time, the extravaganza includes a downloadable app that lists the participating artists and reveals the stories behind their work. A map locates each installation.

“What's great is that the team behind the app was women,” Glatz said. “It's lovely that we're having this ‘women in tech’ movement with LUNA Fête this year.”


What: Luna Fête

When: Wednesday, Dec. 6 through Saturday, Dec. 9, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Where: Lafayette Square and along Lafayette Street, CBD

Admission: Free