Inspired by our City’s ties to illumination, Mayor Gary McCarthy and the City of Schenectady invite the downtown district businesses and building owners to partner with our local nonprofit community in our brand new inaugural lighting experience. ILLUMINOCITY 2021 will inspire more people than ever to eat, shop, and play downtown, show our pride for our city and support the county’s brightest lights, our nonprofit organizations.

ILLUMINOCITY 2021 will have its big reveal the night of the parade on November 20th, and wrap up right after the New Year in early January.  Businesses and nonprofits will be responsible for securing each other as partners.  The nonprofit must be a 501(c)(3) operating in Schenectady County and the business partner must operate and decorate within the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation (DSIC) district.  The district is comprised of the shaded area on the attached map.  This experience involves a friendly, but competitive holiday decorating contest.  Cash prizes will be awarded to winning nonprofits in January at an awards event, so save the date for January 11th.  Nonprofits and their business partners must be present to win and claim the prize.

How it Works:

Nonprofits must connect with a business/property partner in the DSIC district
Email the Participation Application Form with subject line “ILLUMINOCITY 2021”to no later than November 15th.
Business/property partners are asked to decorate and light up their building in one of our judges’ categories (see below). The property must be fully decorated by November 19th.
A public People’s Choice Award will be open for public voting hosted by the Gazette between November 19th and January 3rd
Additionally, a panel of judges will select 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners in a variety of categories.
Contest Rules:

Keep it family-friendly!
When using lights, please only use traditional non-blinking ones; no strobe-lighting displays as strobes may trigger epilepsy.
Refrain from including business-related advertisements and/or potentially competing special event advertisements as part of your display.
Decorated store front should be viewable from the sidewalk but must not obstruct the sidewalk and/or pedestrian right of way – to include ADA-compliant access to store fronts.

Public Vote | This is the top award voted on by the public via the Daily Gazette website.

People’s Choice – Will take place between November 19th and January 3rd. 
Judges’ Categories | A panel of judges will choose 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in the following categories:

Most Creative – While creativity is always subjective and open to interpretation, we are looking for storefronts that will knock our judges’ socks off with holiday spirit that we’ve never seen before!
Schenectady Pride – Our community has historic ties to illumination. History aside, we always look to the future.  Storefronts will show everyone what makes Schenectady so unique and a truly magical place to live.
Technical Challenge – You don’t need to be a rocket scientist, but you can make your storefront high-tech. The lights on your façade might be synced to music, or dance in rhythm – the choice is yours.  Make it a Geek Squad moment!
Most Animated — While strobe lights are out, motion in your storefront lighting display is exciting and one very special category. Make your display moved, and our judges will be, too!
The Griswolds — Inspired by the 1989 movie, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, let your inner tacky-whacky Clark Griswold come out and share your own interpretation of the iconic move franchise.

Event and contest details
Map of eligible locations (blue shaded area)
Partnership application form


ILLUMINOCITY is also seeking sponsors for this inaugural event. A variety of levels and benefits are available.

Sponsorship form
For questions, please call Ray Legere at 518-369-4887, or and Heather Peterson at 518-390-0198 or

Thank you for your interest in participating in the inaugural year for  ILLUMNOCITY 2021!