Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Over a century old, Harrisburg’s Kipona returns with food, fireworks, family activities

A fire-eater and a wire-walker demonstrated their skills outside Harrisburg city hall today.

For more than a century, Harrisburg’s Kipona Festival has changed greatly—from a rather genteel rowing event to an end-of-the-summer party.

However, one thing has always remained—a celebration of the Susquehanna River and the city’s relationship with it.

So it will continue to be for the 103rd year of Kipona, which is slated for this Labor Day weekend. The three-day festival will take place along the river, on the river and, at times, even above the river.

“The end of the summer is almost here,” said Mayor Eric Papenfuse during a press conference today. “That means that we are ready the festival of sparkling water.”

Last year, about 70,000 people attended Kipona over three days, and Papenfuse said that he expected at least as many this year.

The event begins on Saturday, and attendees can expect a healthy dose of tradition, which includes canoe and kayak races, an arts market, food vendors, live music on two stages and the annual Indian pow-wow on City Island.

In recent years, the city has added attractions like tight-wire walkers, who balance on wires extended over the river, as well as a beer garden, and both are returning. New this year will be “Holi,” also known as a “Festival of Colors,” a Hindu celebration of new beginnings. Participants celebrate by tossing colorful powder into the air and onto each other.

Other additions include a Pilates class, a roller skating rink in the street on Sunday, a “bubble festival” on Monday and an increased focus on activities both for your children and your pets. The always-popular fireworks are slated for Sunday at dusk, about 8:15 p.m.

Street parking is free on Sunday and Monday. Otherwise, parking will be $5 on City Island and $10 in the Market Square garage downtown. Attendees also can get four hours of free parking on Saturday with the ParkMobile app, using the code, “LUVHBG.”

“This will be an exciting event,” said Papenfuse. “And we are expecting large crowds from Harrisburg and its surrounding regions to join us for what promises to be an incredible 103rd Kipona celebration.”

For all details of the 103rd annual Kipona celebration, visit

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