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On November 9th, 2019, I had only one goal for the evening: Get to Luminaria.

To get to Luminaria, I decided to save money by taking VIA, the public transportation system here in San Antonio, Texas. As my bus rushed passed Centro Plaza, I felt the excitement building up within me. I was almost there.

What is there, you ask? Luminaria, that’s what. Luminaria is a free contemporary arts festival held annually in Hemisfair. At Luminaria, you can expect to see performances, public displays of art, inspiring videos, the smell of fragrant food in the air, lights on display everywhere, and so much more. I went last year and desperately wanted to go again this year. 

When I was dropped off by my VIA bus, I ventured towards the Yanaguana garden in Hemisfair. The first piece I saw was Mission Moon Glow, a huge inflated moon created by Tom Turner and Carol Cunningham Turner.  The multicolored moon was on display for a crowd to see in the grass, which many people took turns taking pictures in front of. As I continued my walk, I began noticing other art. 

Photo credits: Amber Stillwagon

Along the path in Hemisfair were buildings that were illuminated by multicolored streams of light. Right in the center of the boulevard were people with Anonymous masks holding digital screens, which showcased animal cruelty in the meat industry. Although I am not a vegetarian, as an art lover I do understand the impact of political art. 

I finally came up to the Hermann Building, where I found myself in a line waiting to pose under blacklight among numerous objects. Some of these objects included a painted guitar, a painted tricycle, painted gaming sets, and more. This art installation was by Albert Gonzales, who can be found on Instagram @Trebla_Art. 

Photo credits: Amber Stillwagon

Right outside the Mexican Cultural Institute, I saw a wall that was illuminated with different patterns of light. Electronic music was blasting as people were dancing to the beat. You could even see the light as it moved across our faces, and as it moved across the sky above us.

Photo credits: Amber Stillwagon

Near the Riverwalk was an installation created by Joel Laviolette, who can be found on Instagram @Joel.Laviolette. According to Joel, this installation included projected mapping to create a symphony of colors across the wall. The result of this hard-work was a beautiful installation that many people enjoyed taking pictures of each other’s silhouettes in front of them. 

Photo credits: Amber Stillwagon

Finally, I ventured into BlueCat Yoga and Healing Arts Studio, where I treated myself to a beautiful sound bath. As I walked in, I was drawn to the center of the room, where the instructors were using crystal bowls to create transcendental tones that were meant to relax the listener. I sat nearby and listened for about ten minutes, deeply concentrating on the frequencies, while also keeping my eyes closed and allowing myself to relax. As I left, I felt that I was totally renewed and refreshed. 

Photo credits: Amber Stillwagon

I soon found that it was almost time to leave, so I made sure to walk the path back to where my VIA bus stop was. I couldn’t help but feel that Luminaria had outdone itself, as I felt that this festival was even better than the year before. I cannot wait to go back again next year, and see what else is new to explore in the world of San Antonio culture and art.

Junior studying Communication with a Civic Engagement minor at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
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