"Pittsburgh 250 Festival of Lights" Largest Festival of its Kind in the United States Starts October 10th

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Expanded Footprint in Downtown, Oakland and Surrounding Neighborhoods to be Transform Buildings Into Large Scale Works of Art Starting October 10th - November 20, 2008

Back by popular demand, Pittsburgh facades will once again be transformed into unique large-scale works of art with rich colors, shapes and textures through state-of-the-art technology and illumination.

The largest light festival of its kind in the United States, the Pittsburgh 250 Festival of Lights is a "mecca" event strategically timed to coincide with the height of visual and performance arts schedules, to get local residents and tourists alike to experience the region's tremendous array of arts, events and activities that drive economic development, increase travel and tourism and change the way Pittsburghers see their City.

The Pittsburgh 250 Festival of Lights will kick-off Downtown on Friday evening, October 10th at Agnes R. Katz Plaza in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's International Festival of Firsts and then premiere in Oakland on October 15th in tandem with the debut of Squonk Opera's new work, Astro-Rama, at a free outdoor performance in Schenley Plaza.

"We're proud to do our part in creating such a unique festival. Beginning Oct 10, people will be amazed. A lighting festival like this has never been seen in the United States. said Morgan O'Brien, president and CEO of Duquesne Light. We're hoping it helps bring different people into the city over the next several weeks, so they can enjoy not only an astounding light show, but also Pittsburgh's restaurants and shops," O'Brien continued.

Pittsburgh 250 Festival of Lights will kick-off with an official "Flip the Switch" ceremony featuring performances by local Pittsburgh musicians to be held on Friday evening, October 10th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at Agnes R. Katz Plaza, with lighting unveiled at approximately 8:45 PM.

Lighting will feature designs created by French, German and local artists. Executive Director of ARTLUMIERE, French lighting producer Lucette de Rugy is the creative force behind the illuminations for Katz Plaza and the Cathedral of Learning. Working with French designer Corentine Buron and German design team CASA MAGICA (Friedrich Foerster and Sabine Weissinger) as de Rugy explains, the inspiration for the illumination project came from "the incredibly rich architecture of Pittsburgh, which reflects so much its 250 year history, its heritage as well as its future."

Expanding the festival to Oakland at the Cathedral of Learning directly links to the spirit and history of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh 250 celebration. The Cathedral of Learning, built in 1924, was created by dedicated Pittsburghers as a symbol and tribute to all who have made Pittsburgh a shining beacon in education, business and culture. It is the second tallest educational building in the world.

For the first time this year, more than 15 churches, synagogues and temples will be lighted to further extend the festival's footprint and showcase the architectural history and prowess of this region and engage the interfaith community and their parishioners through neighborhood walks, worship and historical tours. New programming also includes a special Pittsburgh Community Gallery projection, on view on the wall of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center parking lot. The projection will celebrate Pittsburgh's future by highlighting artwork from area youth, their mentors and programs.

In addition, performance stages adjacent to lighting installations at Agnes R. Katz Plaza and across from the Cathedral of Learning in Schenley Plaza will showcase local performing talent throughout October.

Another focal point of the Festival of Lights will be the return of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, November 3rd - November 9th. Participating restaurants will offer in addition to their regular menu, a three-course, prix fixe dinner menu for $35.00 per person and many will also offer a three-course lunch menu for $25.00 per person. Pittsburgh Restaurant Week is produced in collaboration with VisitPittsburgh with media support from Pittsburgh Magazine. "A Little Light Fare", a special late night dining promotion to coincide with the "Pittsburgh 250 Festival of Lights", will be presented by dozens of regional restaurants to encourage participants to experience the lights and enjoy Pittsburgh's culinary offerings.

Pittsburgh 250 Festival of Lights is free to the public and is powered by Duquesne Light and is made possible through generous support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, The Grable Foundation and the Audrey Hillman Fisher Foundation.

For the complete list of Pittsburgh 250 Festival of Lights locations, events and activities, please visit http://www.pittsburghcelebrates.org.

Pittsburgh 250 celebrates the 250th anniversary of the naming of the region in 1758. With the support of the region's business, government and civic leaders, Pittsburgh 250's goals are: Improve awareness of southwestern Pennsylvania as a global leader; support projects that connect the region's past to its future; and improve the region's competitiveness for future generations. For more information http://www.imaginepittsburgh.com

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Lissa Rosenthal
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