Lighting the City with Newburgh Illuminated Festival

Photo Courtesy of Newburgh Illuminated Festival.

Newburgh Illuminated Festival, the brainchild of the late mayor, Judy Kennedy, has been gracing the city grounds since 2013, bringing thousands of people together each year as the Hudson Valley’s largest outdoor festival. It is a nonprofit run entirely by devoted volunteers. Their website states, “The Newburgh Illuminated Festival celebrates the diversity and dynamism of our wonderful river city with a day of music, art, dance, poetry, food and more,”(, which helps to give a broad understanding of what this day means to the community. Typically, the event takes place all day long so that the people and families may come and go as they please throughout and enjoy all that there is to experience. Although the event has been unfortunately postponed this year, this day still remains important to the community each year and deserves the recognition and spotlight for all it does for Newburgh. With so much hard work and many committed volunteers, it becomes a day that so many look forward to in anticipation. You can check their Instagram or Facebook profiles for updates on when to expect the next Newburgh Illuminated Festival date at, @newburghilluminated.

Each year, taking place on Broadway and Liberty Street, five stages are set up for various musicians to perform for the crowds and fill the air with song. You can enjoy a nice variety of local bands and solo acts all day. Typically, the headliner and last band to perform at the end of the fun filled day is none other than the Funk Junkies. All day along the sides of the streets, vendors set up their own booths, where you can find and purchase art, stickers, jewelry, T-shirts, accessories and other special handmade novelties.

A variety of food trucks can also be enjoyed during this day; you can find jerk chicken, lemonade, coffees, tacos, empanadas, ice cream, Italian shaved ice and more! The small businesses and eateries in the area also stay open to bring in more business, which definitely works out in favor of these hard workers. Many local businesses, including but not limited to: 2 Alice’s, Blanca’s Tailoring, The Wherehouse, Newburgh Mercantile, Toasted, Fxded Barbershop, Mama Roux and Commodore Chocolatier, have store fronts within the festival bounds, but there are also other local businesses that vend at the festival, such as Hacienda Skate Shop and Handsome Devil. 

This day highlights the hard working volunteers and the very impressive businesses and artists in the area, while it also shows the countless attendees how inspiring and beautiful Newburgh truly is. Morgan Fracasse, the co-chair of the vendor committee, stated, “We have a nonprofit vendor every year, the Gift of Life Marrow registry, where people can volunteer to see if they match anyone who needs a bone marrow donor, in past years, several life saving donors have been found as a result of the swabbing drives they hold at Newburgh Illuminated each year.” So, while the day does a phenomenal job in celebrating unity and creativity, it also shows us how we can do our part in helping out the community in these special, more personal ways as well. Even choosing to volunteer throughout this celebratory day is an honorable thing to do. This is the perfect chance to give back to the community in meaningful and powerful ways.

 In the Safe Harbor’s Green, there is always a stage set up for beautiful, elaborate fashion shows and dance performances to take place. This gives aspiring models and dancers from the area the perfect chance to showcase their talents and passions for the eager crowds. One model who participated in the 2022 fashion show, Andrew Solicito, stated, “Performing in the Newburgh Illuminated Fashion Show was such a fun learning experience for myself and many other local aspiring models and dancers. The opportunity presented options to learn, network and grow as an aspiring artist through the power of community. It’s a genuine experience any person can be a part of.” Having these types of opportunities for all artists brings so much to our area for people to be able to grow and prosper through the power of art and community. 

Located within Washington’s Headquarters nearby, you can also find an array of fun and free activities for children of all ages. You can also choose a comfortable spot to sit back and take in all the excitement from afar; there is a phenomenal view of the Hudson River essentially anywhere you decide to settle down on this lovely day. 

Newburgh is known for many great things, including its honorable history and culture. It was the second city in New York to receive the power of electricity and light, which is why it is so important that we continue shedding that same light on the community.