FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matt Maisel
Director of Communications, City of Harrisburg
August 31, 2023
HARRISBURG – For more than 100 years, Harrisburg’s culture and heritage has been on display throughout Labor Day Weekend. No other time of the year do families get a chance to witness an authentic Native American Pow-Wow, experience cultures from all around the world, watch tightrope walkers perform daring feats over a river, and enjoy a dazzling fireworks display than the city’s annual Kipona Festival.
Kipona returns to Riverfront Park and City Island from Saturday, September 2 through Labor Day Monday, September 4. This is the 107th year for the event, which will feature nearly 60 artisan vendors, more than 45 musical acts, and 26 food trucks, plus numerous other exhibits and events for the entire family to enjoy.
The weekend will hit its peak around 8:15 p.m. on Sunday night, when the popular fireworks show, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, make their return to Kipona. Over 1,500 shells in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes will light up the Susquehanna River.
The show will be launched from the northern tip of City Island, making the best place to view the fireworks is along Riverfront Park between Walnut and Forster Streets. The display will also be visible along the riverfront, and throughout other high elevation points throughout the city.
“We are thrilled the fireworks show is making its return to Kipona,” said Mayor Wanda R.D. Williams. “We saw over July 4th a tremendous crowd, kept safe by the great work of our Harrisburg Police officers and firefighters. These are the events which bring us together, and we know even if fireworks aren’t for you or your family, there are so many other events to enjoy this weekend.”
Among the festival favorites returning include tightrope walker Rylee Gallagher, who returns to Kipona with a series of dramatic tightwire walks above the Susquehanna River. The 50-foot tightrope extends from the Walnut Street Bridge to the lower Riverwalk.
Gallagher will walk at noon all three days, and 3 p.m. and 6:10 p.m. on Sunday. She will also have a special illuminated walk at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday.
In addition, the Native American Pow Wow, sponsored by Peggy Grove, returns to City Island all weekend for the 26th year. Located near the Water Golf miniature golf course, the powwow will give guests a chance to connect to the heart of the Kipona Festival: its relationship with the Native American culture and heritage. The term Kipona literally translates to “On sparkling water” by many Native Americans, referencing the connection to the Susquehanna River. Throughout the weekend, guests are encouraged to stop by the powwow to see Iroquois social dancing, Aztec fire dancing, intertribal drumming, and crafts.
“One of the things we pride ourselves on when we hold these great events in the city is when we’re able to celebrate our diversity in a way the entire family can enjoy,” said Mayor Williams. “In addition to celebrating culture, the UPMC Family Fun Zone is expected to be its biggest yet.”
The UPMC Family Fun Zone is open to families all weekend. Face painting, balloon animals, and an entertainment stage featuring children’s theater, magicians, and live animal educational presentations will take place. On Sunday, there will be a free rock wall for climbing, a bungie trampoline, and two mobile Escape Room buses.
Of course, the bubble festival, courtesy Grandpop Bubbles, returns to Kipona this year on Labor Day Monday, with bubble creations up to 70-feet long with a variety of large wands for everyone to participate. It runs all day, September 4, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
A full list of musical acts and attending food trucks, plus drink specials from Harrisburg breweries, can be found on the Kipona guide at HarrisburgPA.gov/Kipona.
The entire weekend will also feature free and discounted parking. Downtown parking on Saturday is free after 5 p.m., and anyone who uses the promo code “LUVHBG” on the ParkMobile app gets four hours of free parking. Street parking is free on Sunday and Monday. Special event parking is available on City Island for $5, and in the Market Square Garage from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. all weekend for $10. Bicycle parking is available for free in Riverfront Park at Market and Forster, courtesy Recycle Bicycle.