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CONTACT: Matt Maisel
Director of Communications, City of Harrisburg
(717) 255-7295
[email protected]

September 1, 2022

HARRISBURG – The city’s first-ever laser light show will highlight Harrisburg’s longest running annual festivals this Labor Day weekend.

Kipona returns from Saturday, September 3 to Monday, September 5 along the Susquehanna River. The 106th year for the event will feature more than 50 artisan vendors, more than 30 musical acts, 25 food trucks, and numerous other exhibits and events for the entire family to take part.

The weekend will hit its peak around 8:15 p.m. Sunday night, when a 25-minute laser light show choreographed to music will be launched over the Susquehanna River from City Island, offering spectacular views along Riverfront Park. The show, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Housing Financing Agency, will feature special effects and well-know family songs.

“The City of Harrisburg has never had anything as unique as a laser light show,” said Mayor Wanda R.D. Williams. “We were presented the opportunity to try something new that the whole family can enjoy. We hope it’s something we can bring back for future festivals.”

The light show may be new, but festival goers can expect some annual favorites to return. Tightrope walkers from American Tightwire will return with their series of dramatic walks, suspended 50-feet above the Susquehanna River. They will walk from the Walnut Street Bridge to the lower Riverwalk. These walks will take place at noon all three days, plus 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and a special illuminated walk at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday night.

The Dick Reese canoe and kayak races are back, with races starting at 10 a.m. on Labor Day Monday September 5. Races are open to all ages. Individuals can register for $20 and families for $50 through this website: https://www.ccghpa.com/kipona-race/kipona-race-registration/. Registration is also available at the Canoe Club of Harrisburg vendor table. Proceeds benefit Harrisburg Making Outdoor Connections.

If you love the water but racing isn’t your thing, maybe you’ll want to try a discounted guided kayak tour, sponsored by Susquehanna Outfitters. Tours take place throughout the day on Sunday, September 4, launching from the tip of City Island near the Harrisburg Beach Club.

The 106th annual Kipona Festival also plans to put an increased emphasis on Native-American culture. The term Kipona literally translates to “On sparkling water” by many Native Americans, referencing the connection to the Susquehanna River. Throughout the festival weekend, people are encouraged to stop by the Pow-Wow taking place on the west end of City Island near the Water Golf miniature golf course. There will be native dancing, crafts, music, ax throwing, and other education demonstrations.

“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. Yoga, presented by Soul Smirk, will also return to offer classes to anyone.

In addition, there will be an assortment of carnival games and a giant slide. On Monday, the free bubble festival returns, where kids can see the largest bubbles of their lives, sometimes up to 70 feet big! Also, the J.T. Dorsey Soccer Foundation will hold open pick-up style soccer games for kids 9 to 16 years old in South Riverfront Park near Washington Street. Check-in begins at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, with games beginning at noon.

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 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.