As Cathedral District Jax winds up its event Christmas in the Cathedral District: Let There Be Light, it’s adding a surprise new element with a laser light installation at The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (121 East Duval, 32202) that is one of the few in the nation.

From December 24-27 only, a Laser Light Art Installation designed by Castano Group, uses projection mapping to turn the Basilica’s architectural façade into an interactive art display.

The light shows will run every 15 minutes December 24 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. and December 25, 26 and 27 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. and feature music by the Jacksonville Children’s Chorus, The Jacksonville Symphony, CDJ Church Choirs, and organist Tim Tuller.

This type of architectural laser projection technology has been seen on a few churches internationally. With “projection mapping” a video is mapped onto a surface using a sophisticated software program and in this case, enhancing an architectural facade into a dazzling display. During the projection mapping production process, images are fitted onto a 3D graphic model of the building.

“The images appear to wrap themselves around the physical features of the structure. They give the appearance of being painted on and part of the same structure even though they are not,” says artist Kedgar Volta of The Castano Group.

Joash Brunet, Kedgar’s partner at The Castano Group says the Let There Be Light event presented the perfect canvas for this unique art light installation. “Castano Group is passionate about finding new ways for people to interface with their environments and each other. We’re also passionate about our city,” says Brunet. “This project offered us an opportunity to combine these passions through an interfaith experience that we feel can become a signature holiday event for the city and the Northeast Florida region.”

The four-night-only event is part of the Cathedral District’s gift to its beloved community after a long and challenging year. Like many non-profits, the Cathedral District was in the middle of event planning when the pandemic up-ended public life. The Cathedral District’s board of directors came up with the idea of hosting a safe, family-friendly, drive-through event to showcase its five historic churches instead.

Every evening for over one month since November 27, The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville, First United Methodist Church, Historic Mount Zion AME Church and St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral have shined as part of a driving tour that includes more than 150 brightly lit trees. Four other significant landmark buildings are illuminated as well.

Belightjax.com, the CDJ audio tour created to be downloaded on phones, includes an introduction and music by the Jacksonville Symphony and descriptions of each of the Historic Churches and Landmark buildings. The Basilica lighting show was added as an additional showpiece for the gift to the city and features musical direction from The Balance King a classically-trained pianist, composer, trumpeter, beat curator, and visual scoring artist.

“We can’t wait for our community to see this spectacular light installation, it is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. To showcase the Basilica in this way as we wind down our event is amazing, and we’re so lucky to have the unique talents The Castano Group brings to this as part of this, our gift during such a challenging year,” said Ginny Myrick, CEO and President of Cathedral District-Jax. “Guests will be able the watch the lighting installation safely from their cars, sharing the delight of the season with their families while remaining safely distanced from others. We are still keeping the holiday spirit alive during the full season of Christmas.”

While the light installation runs December 24-27, the driving tour of the District runs every evening through December 31.

Christmas in the Cathedral District partners include: Vestcor, Dream Lights of Florida, The Castano Group, WJXT- 4, Jaguars Foundation, Community Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation, FIS Foundation, WJB Real Estate Companies, Blue Sky Communities, Aging True, Sleiman Enterprises, The Toney Sleiman Family, JEA, VyStar Credit Union, Joannie and Russell Newton Jr. JF Bryan, Regency Centers, DVI, The Bill Barnett Family, and Liz Morgan PR. For more information, please visit cathedraldistrict-jax.org.

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