How US Cities Celebrate the Solar Eclipse

A crowd watches the 2017 solar eclipse during a viewing party at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. Credit – The Washington Post – Getty

II’ve never heard the music of the Cleveland Orchestra. I’ve certainly never heard them perform the fourth movement from Motzart Symphony No. 41– better known as ‘Jupiter’. But that will change on April 7, when I join tens of thousands of others at the city’s Great Lakes Science Center, where the orchestra will perform as just one part of a three-day festival built around the next day’s solar eclipse. totality over Cleveland just after 3:13 PM CDT.

On April 8, the eclipse’s total path will cross 15 states and hundreds of cities and towns, from southwestern Texas to northeastern Maine before entering Canada, and will be visible to an estimated 31 million Americans. That’s a lot of people who will attend the big air show, and local communities are gearing up – and in many cases, making money. Up to four million people are expected to travel to cities within the totality band, with airfare According to Forbes, hotel accommodations, meals and other travel-related expenses are expected to inject up to $1 billion into the US economy.

On its own, Johnson County, Ind., expects to rake in up to $25 million before the event is over, with some hotels pushing their prices up to $1,000 a night. The Niagara Falls Region is looking for a smaller, but still significant, $1 million in proceeds. Arkansas isn’t anticipating exactly how big the April 8 payday will be, but it does expect 1.5 million visitors, briefly boosting the state’s population of 3 million by 50%. In an official statement in December 2023, the state legislature called the solar eclipse “the largest tourism event in Arkansas history.”

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Preparing for this kind of influx not only saves money, but also costs money. In upstate New York, Erie County is purchasing $100,000 worth of eclipse glasses to protect visitors’ eyes as the sun slowly disappears and reappears. In Chautauqua County, the Legislature is allocating $200,000 to increase the availability of ambulance equipment, as well as portable cell towers, highway message boards and traffic flares. Ohio is spending $1 million to increase first responder and emergency management capacity.

It’s the solar eclipse festivities — the concerts and barbecues and planetarium shows and science lectures and more — that local governments are counting on as much as anything else to bring out the sky watchers and tourists. Here’s just a sampling of what you can expect at different locations.


The Cleveland Orchestra is far from the only attraction the city is planning for the eclipse celebration. An international film festival is also offered, including the film Small city universe, about a town in West Virginia where cell phones and WiFi are banned for fear they will disrupt the nearby radio telescope that observes the sky. In addition to the film festival, there will be a viewing party on the grounds of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, as well as outdoor food offerings from local favorites like Betty’s Bomb Ass Burgers, The Proper Pig Smokehouse and Wack-E-Wontons. In Dayton, the local Philharmonic will perform and the Cricket Holler Boy Scout Camp will hold an open educational session on eclipses. In Columbus, there will be a viewing party at the Columbus Center of Science and Industry, a screening of 2001: A space odyssey, and a Columbus Zoo and Aquarium “Solar-Bration.” All eclipse events in Ohio are listed here.


Nearly 12.8 people in Texas, spread over a 772 km (480 mile) line, live in the path of the eclipse, and they will have plenty to see. NASA’s Space Center Houston will host a watch party, a performance by the Houston Youth Chamber Orchestra, and a real-time mural inspired by the phases of the solar eclipse by celebrated Houston artist GONZO247. Camping packages are offered in the town of Burnet, northwest of Austin. In Austin itself, which sits on the edge of the eclipse path and will therefore experience a relatively brief minute and 44 seconds of totality, residents and guests will make the most of what they get, with a viewing party at the Living Tree Amphitheater, a “ Celestial Celebration” at the William Chris Vineyards, and a viewing party at the two-mile Buchanan Dam. All Texas eclipse events can be found here.

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Missouri gets as much as four minutes and twelve seconds total in some parts of the southeastern corner of the state. Twenty state parks and historic sites lie in the path of totality, several of which are open for camping. Dozens of others lie just outside the fully eclipsed band, ranging from a low of 84.9% to a high of over 99.95%. The Bootheel Youth Museum in the town of Malden is hosting a viewing party to take advantage of the slightly abbreviated three minutes and 18 seconds of totality it will experience, while Arcadia Valley – home to the communities of Ironton, Pilot Knob and Arcadia – as well as the highest point in the state – will hold a two-day festival, including live music, a craft fair, educational sessions at the library and a beer garden. Just in case you need a reminder to bring your eclipse glasses, Arcadia has dubbed the festivities “Blinded By the Light.” All eclipse events in Missouri are listed here.


Like Missouri, Illinois will experience totality mainly in its southeastern corner, with larger cities like Chicago, Springfield, Peoria and Champaign missing the best part of the show. But there are plenty of places in the shade where you can witness the full solar eclipse. Southern Illinois University (SIU), in Carbondale, is on the centerline of the eclipse and is four minutes and nine seconds away. In partnership with NASA and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, SIU will host an eclipse watching event at Saluki Stadium, including live entertainment, telescope feeds from across the country projected onto the stadium scoreboard and guided narration leading up to the eclipse. led by astronomer and physicist Michelle Nichols, of the Adler. The City of Mount Vernon will host a three-day series of events at the Cedarhurst Center for the Arts, featuring hands-on activities and eclipse-related storytime for preschool and school-age children, as well as a piano concerto that will include a performance of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata ‘. Marion, Illinois is offering a weekend retreat at SIU’s Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center and a viewing party at Mtn Dew Park, home of the Thrillville Thrillbillies of the collegiate summer baseball league. All Illinois eclipse events are here.

read more: Where you can watch the solar eclipse


All of Maine will experience at least part of the eclipse. The northeastern city of Houlton is the last place in the US to experience totality, starting at 3:32:05 PM local time and ending at 3:35:25 PM. The city will be home to one of its most historically rooted events, with a small pile of stones, reminiscent of ancient stone cairns, already gathered on the lawn of the city’s Unitarian Universalist Church. The cairn is intended as a gathering place for eclipse observers who are invited to add their own stones to the pile. The church will also host an eclipse fair featuring Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga and meditation, as well as sound healing, drumming, dancing and ‘a planetary moment of silence’. Elsewhere, the Audubon Center of Maine will invite participants to double watch parties, one at the organization’s Fields Pond Center outside Bangor, and one along the coast at Gilsland Farm Center in Falmouth. NASA will also co-host a watch event at the University of Maine’s Versant Power Astronomy Center. All eclipse events in Maine can be found here.

Other states experiencing totality and hosting eclipse events include Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. All this means that in many places there are plenty of opportunities to participate in an event that won’t take place again in the contiguous US until 2044.

Write to Jeffrey Kluger at

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