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HAPPY TOTALITY! Don't miss your chance to witness Burlington’s first total eclipse since 1932

03/25/2024 11:13AM ● By WENDIE PECHARSKY
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that on April 8, 2024, Burlington will experience a total eclipse of the sun. According to the University of Vermont’s Space Grant Consortium, “At 2:14 pm, a solar total eclipse will begin in Burlington. From 3:26 to 3:29 pm, the sun will be completely blocked by the moon as it passes between the sun and the earth, darkening the skies as if it were dusk. In the case of clouds, it will be as dark as the middle of the night.”

The last time Burlington had a total solar eclipse was in 1932, and it won’t see another until 2106, so Burlington City Arts (BCA) and its partners in other city departments are pulling out all the stops to offer a “totally” awesome festival of family-friendly events called Obscura BTV.



BCA will set up “official” viewing locations throughout parks in the area, including Waterfront Park, Battery Park, Perkins Pier, City Hall Park, Roosevelt Park, Oakledge Park, and Leddy Park. BCA Communications Director John Flanagan says, “At Waterfront Park, which is kind of the epicenter of all there is to do, there will be a stage and speaker towers and programming throughout the day, with music and an emcee leading people through the event, but of course, it will be quiet during the eclipse because that’s part of the experience, hearing the birds and the insects respond to the sudden fall of night.”

There will be merch booths selling eclipse swag, like glasses (BCA has ordered 50,000 Obscura BTV-branded ones), t-shirts, and posters. There will be plenty of portable toilets onsite and signal boosters to improve cell phone reception. Plus, City Hall Park will host an after-party, as in “after” the sun comes back out. “If it does,” John jokes.



Between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors are expected to descend on Burlington on April 8 to view the total eclipse, depending on the cloud cover, and BCA and its partners, including the Burlington Police and Fire departments, are working hard to accommodate the crowds and keep everyone safe. “Every Burlington police officer is going to be in uniform that day and present in the city. It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation,” John says.

Schools in the area will close at 11:30 am, and Route 127, known locally as the Beltline, will be closed from 10 am to 8 pm to provide vehicle parking. There will be shuttle buses running from 12 pm to 7:30 pm to transport people to and from the Waterfront. City parking garages will also be open.

For more information about the eclipse, the city is holding a Total Solar Eclipse info session on March 21 at 6 pm at the Contois Auditorium. Obscura BTV planners, city leaders, and other eclipse event stakeholders will speak, and the event will be live-streamed on Channel 17 on YouTube.


The First Unitarian Universalist Society, in partnership with Obscura BTV, will present Emmy-nominated cellist and composer Zoë Keating at 8 pm The classically trained innovator is known for her intricate, electronically manipulated soundscapes, which are enhanced by mesmerizing projections by Alex Reeves of Vanish Work.


Obscura BTV will present Burlington-based composer Randal Pierce, who will perform Dvorak’s “Song to the Moon” from his opera Rusalka and provide the soundtrack to George Méliès’ silent film, A Trip to the Moon at 6:30 and 8:30 pm at the Contois Auditorium. Hotel Vermont will host astrophysical scientist Alain J. Brizard, PhD, who will discuss the science and history behind a total solar eclipse.


ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, and the Vermont Astrological Society will offer “Eclipse 2024 at ECHO.” The program will offer solar-safe viewing techniques, including sun- oculars, telescope projections, and eclipse glasses, plus family-friendly, hands-on activities and a special eclipse pop-up exhibit to learn more about this rare astronomical event.

Shelburne Vineyard will host “Moonshadow: An Eclipse Viewing Experience.” Take advantage of this opportunity to view the eclipse from a scenic Vermont vineyard accompanied by a live musical score performed on harp and guitar. There will also be tarot card readings and vendors selling Vermont-made goods.

BTV, the Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport, invites you to “Transcend,” an event that will give you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to view the solar eclipse from an airfield. The event will include live music, food trucks, bar service, games, displays, and more. 

10 Fun Facts

About Eclipses

Amaze your friends with some eclipse-inspired trivia.

  1. The word eclipse comes from ekleipsis, the ancient Greek word for being abandoned.

  2. A total solar eclipse is a rare event, estimated to recur at any given location only every 360–410 years on average.

  3. A person who chases eclipses is known as an umbraphile, meaning shadow lover.

  4. National Public Radio’s Glen Weldon said that films use eclipses “to signal to audiences that the normal rules have temporarily lifted, and things are about to get weird.”

  5. The British astronomer and mathematician Sir Arthur Eddington used the total solar eclipse of May 29, 1919, to test Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

  6. In China, solar eclipses were thought to be associated with the health
    and success of the emperor, and two astrologers were executed for failing to predict one.

  7. The line “Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun” in Carly Simon’s pop hit “You’re So Vain” was supposedly inspired by the solar eclipse that occurred on March 7, 1970.

  8. Greek historian Herodotus noted that a solar eclipse in 585 BCE stopped a war when both armies saw the dark skies as a sign to make peace.

  9. A solar eclipse is responsible for the discovery of helium. The first piece of evidence of its existence was discovered by the French astronomer Jules Janssen during a total solar eclipse on August 18, 1868.

     10.Edmund Halley, whom the famous Halley’s comet is named for, first predicted the timing                and path of the total solar eclipse on May 3, 1715. His calculations were only 4 minutes                    and about 30 km (18 miles) off from the actual timing and path of the eclipse. 

Eclipse Day: Where to Party

THE VENETIAN SODA LOUNGE will hold a total eclipse viewing party on April 8. Space-themed cocktails, crafted specially for the event, will be available. There will also be live music and a galactic costume contest with prizes for the best space- themed outfit. Solar-safe glasses will be provided.

HILTON BURLINGTON LAKE CHAMPLAIN will sponsor a “Total Eclipse of the Heart” party on April 8, featuring ‘80s-themed music, dancing, passed hors d’oeuvres, one drink ticket per person, and an ’80s-themed gift bag.

PALMER’S SUGAR HOUSE will hold a “Solar Eclipse 2024 Party” on April 8, offering live music by the Tenderbellies, food by Farmer’s Market LLC and Babas Tacos, plus specialty elixirs. 

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