Cincinnati's four-day, light-filled arts extravaganza that spread throughout downtown, Over-the-Rhine and spilled across the Ohio River into Covington drew huge crowds, organizers have announced — even larger than the event's first run in 2017.
At least 1.25 million people — and perhaps as many as 1.5 million — attended BLINK this year, according to estimates from organizers that are based on the city's public safety efforts and reports from consultants working the event. That's likely the biggest crowd ever to visit the city's urban core.
About 1 million attended the event during its first year.
More than 150,000 people watched the "Future City Light Spectacular" opening parade for the event. The procession featured 3,400 people representing 93 participating groups, according to estimates from organizers. The overall BLINK event, which spanned 30 city blocks, also included 50 artists, 39 dynamic projection mappings on various murals and the creation of 16 new murals across Cincinnati and Covington.
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is still crunching the numbers on the event's economic impact, but estimates suggest hotels downtown saw 95 percent occupancy rates on the Friday the festival took place and 99 percent occupancy rates on that Saturday. (BLINK was held Oct. 10 through Oct. 13.)
Transit options also saw big numbers as attendees looked for ways to escape traffic. Cincinnati's Metro bus service provided 14,655 rides from three park-and-ride locations over the four days of BLINK, while Cincinnati's streetcar saw more than 43,200 rides over those four days, including 14,670 on Saturday alone. That's not quite as many as the more than 50,000 who rode the streetcar on its opening weekend, but is much higher than the 26,000 who rode during BLINK 2017.
"BLINK was designed to bring communities together," said Tim Maloney, President and CEO of the Carol Ann and Ralph V Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, one of the event's founding organizations. "This year we literally bridged our differences in a bigger, better, and brighter way. Thank you to everyone who has embraced BLINK in such an extraordinary way."