At 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, towns and cities across the world will plunge into darkness as Earth Hour 2016 kicks off, an event celebrating the world we live in and bringing attention to the issues that endanger it.
What started off as a single-city event celebrated by 2.2 million people in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, has spread across the world, now involving more than 172 countries, each taking part in the “lights out” hour.
Iconic structures such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, London’s Buckingham Palace and New York’s Times Square have all gone dark over the years as a show of support for the Earth Hour movement, whose parent organization is the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The event aims to promote climate awareness, increase support for WWF conservation projects, interest in sustainable living and support for legislative changes around the world. This year’s event will have added momentum after the positive outcomes of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
While the “lights out” hour is the most well-known event, and is symbolic of a recommitment to the movement as a whole, the inspiration behind Earth Hour spreads further than a one-day event. It has become a yearlong movement, aimed at improving the wellbeing of our planet, with crowdfunding, petitions, actions, legislative changes and school engagements occurring throughout the year.
Here are just a few examples of Earth Hour events around the world this year on March 19.
IBikeLondon is holding a fancy dress Earth Hour “Wear It Wild Night Ride” through the city. The ride will be a dyn
amo powered light-up disco, starting under Waterloo Bridge in the late afternoon and arriving back at South Bank in time to see the Oxo Tower go dark at 8:30 p.m. Other landmarks to turn off the lights are Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace.
For those who prefer to walk, the Forestry Commission is organizing a variety of Earth Hour events in the U.K. through March, including stargazing at Kielder Water and Forest Park, and animal spotting at Rendlesham Forest.
Those in Bermuda can take part in a special 5K Glow Fun Walk & Run. Participants can choose to walk, run, or ride bicycles with light bulbs lit by the power of the pedal. It is hoped this will show how much energy is required to light a single bulb. Entertainment and food vendors begin at 7 p.m. The walk/run itself coincides with Earth Hour, starting at 8:30 p.m. The evening ends with more entertainment, while government buildings, banks and landmarks will turn off their lights.
Australia’s Earth Hour 2016 will use traditional and social media, and the hashtag #PlacesWeLove, to highlight actions Australians can take to affect climate change and preserve and protect Australia’s natural resources. WWF will be fundraising for a documentary focusing on the effects of climate change in Australia, and encourages people to upload photos of their favorite places under the PlacesWeLove hashtag.
In addition to the media campaign, restaurants, hotels and residences will be turning the lights off in Sydney, where Earth Hour began. One particularly exciting event is Earth Hour Under the Stars. The event at Sydney Observatory allows telescopic views of the stars while the city’s lights are out, as well as a candlelit tour of the facility.
While Vancouver, Saanich and Edmonton are Canada’s finalists for the 2016 WWF Earth Hour City Challenge, which recognizes sustainable cities, other towns and cities throughout the country will be participating.
The Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta is making a day of it, with a list of Earth Hour activities. Guided stargazing, or for braver souls, a ghost tour of the castle will take place while the lights are out. A harpist will serenade guests by candlelight in the lobby, while the hotel’s restaurant and spa will also be lit by candlelight. Visitors can also take advantage of glow-in-the dark bowling throughout the day.
The Eiffel Tower will go dark for Earth Hour. The public has been invited to turn off individual light bulbs on virtual Eiffel Towers in the run-up to the event, which allows an online light bulb to be named after you.
Jamaica will hold its annual Earth Hour acoustic concert, Caribsave at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in St. Andrew. The 2015 event attracted around 4,000 people, and this year’s concert, with artists such as Sevana, D’Yani, Roots Underground and Katalys Crew, is expected to draw a larger crowd. The concert runs from 6 p.m., and lights will go out between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. when 100 biodegradable lanterns will be released.
It is hard to imagine the Las Vegas Strip without millions of lights sparkling in stark contrast to the surrounding area. However, for one hour only, many hotels on the strip will go dark in support of Earth Hour. Aria, Bellagio, Circus Circus, Excalibur, Hotel 32, Luxor, Mandalay, MGM Grand, Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Skylofts, The Mirage, The Signature, Vdara, and Veer Towers are all participating in the 2016 event.
The city that never sleeps will take a small nap in some areas. A long list of landmarks, buildings and businesses are taking part in Earth Hour by turning their lights out. Theaters including the Al Hirschfeld Theater, August Wilson Theater, St. James Theater and the Walter Kerr Theater are participating, and the Empire State Building and Times Square will also go dark for the hour.
Edinburgh Castle and the Kelpies will participate in the lights out event, as will numerous residences and businesses. Dinner by candlelight will take place at a variety of restaurants across Scotland, including Chef John Rutter’s Edinburgh restaurant Kyloe, Trigony Hotel in Dumfries and Galloway, Marriott Hotel in Dalmahoy, The Piper Bar in Glasgow, The Hilton in Dunblane, and many more.
St. Lucia is using Earth Hour to focus on deforestation. The island nation is organizing a flash mob depicting deforestation, and there will be entertainment including vocal performances. A tree planting activity is also planned.
See www.earthhour.org for more information.