Ever considered going to the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert? On July 19, you can experience Berkeley’s own twist on the Burning Man festival, right in the comfort of Civic Center Park. In its second year, the Berkeley Spark festival combines everything we love about Berkeley — the art, music, food and creativity — and puts it into one free, jam-packed day full of activities, exhibits and unleashed imaginations. We sat down with event organizer Kat Parkin, who told us more about the festivities. “There’s so much music, so much theatre, performance art, dance, creativity, and we’re just taking a sliver of it and just bringing it … to the surface,” Parkin said.
The event was a huge success last year and is back this year after an overwhelming response. “Last year, it was an amazing event,’ ” Parkin said. “We had a great turnout. We got lots of really great feedback. People who said to us that they’d never go out to Burning Man … they said, ‘but I can still enjoy the culture here, in my own backyard.”
The festival will be held throughout the day, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and will feature all kinds of interesting displays of creativity to check out. Here are just a few of the things you’ll find at Berkeley Spark 2.0:
A giant kinetic bear
Constructed mostly out of recycled metal from an old elevator on 2190 Shattuck Avenue, the colossal bear has a giant moving articulate arm. It took almost two years to create, and it’s going to be the central display at the festival. Because of the bear’s size and fragility, Parkin mentioned, “It’s not going to get out very much … this bear and everything else that’s going to be there is going to be really fun.”
A vehicle-turned jellyfish
Who says transportation is boring? This real-life 30-foot-long Transformers-esque vehicle is a moving jellyfish, full with a booming sound system and flashing lights. What started as a truck is now the ultimate dance party on wheels, and it’s coming to Berkeley Spark 2.0. The art car will be presented through a unique community collaboration. “There’s an art car that can’t come … But they’re sending one of their DJs to come and spin on another art car. So there’s kind of a fabricated art car collaboration going on. It’s a great community … It’s amazing how they come support each other,” Parkin said.
An innovation tech corridor
Local innovators and designers will feature their latest works. Check out experiential workshops, art projects for Burning Man and interactive dance experiences, all accompanied by live music by local musicians and DJs.
A beer and wine garden
If you get hungry, you can enjoy food and hand-crafted wines without having to drive to Napa. Several vendors from the local community will be providing food, drinks and tastings for everyone to enjoy. “They’ve got this great beer and wine garden,” Parkin added.
Lots of cool stuff to buy
The festival’s vendor’s market will have more than 35 different vendors selling exotic items such as jewelry, clothing or even LED gadgets for your bike. “A lot of it isn’t sold here in the area, so there’s going to be a lot of great things to buy,” Parkin said.
A lot of really creative art
Because the festival is focused around art and creativity, there will be tons of art to explore throughout the festival. “We’re getting art from all around the Bay Area, so they wouldn’t normally get to see some of these artists. We have one artist who’s supposed to be bringing up his art from L.A., Infinity Boxes, which are really interactive and fun and playful,” Parkin said. Aside from checking out all of the interactive art on display, you can also spend time at the Berkeley Spark’s Playspace, an all-day DIY workshop station where you can try out some of your own artwork by making everything from papier-mache masks to exoskeletons for your bike.
An awesome experience
If you’re looking to check out something unique next weekend, Berkeley Spark 2.0 is definitely the place to go. “I think the takeaway is giving a listen to the local art and local culture … They’re gonna hear music that they may not hear every day, they’re going to see art that they haven’t seen before, and I think they’re just going to have a really great time,” Parkin said.
In fact, the festival is looking for more UC Berkeley students to get involved. While booths are full, if you have something you’d like to present at the festival, you can contact Kat Parkin at [email protected].