Fireworks, a laser light show and Cirque du Soleil-style aerialists lit up the night Monday, Dec. 4, for the grand opening of the Rainbow Bridge, the third element of the Long Beach Convention Center’s dynamic, $60 million renovation.

After Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia cut the ribbon, the Rainbow Bridge’s 3,500 LED lights, 100 downlights and 70 floodlights were lit for the first time, and an LED-illuminated drum corps led the first pedestrians across the bridge from The Promenade to The Terrace Plaza as the many types of light shows the bridge is capable of were demonstrated.

The $10 million, 605-foot elevated pedestrian walkway is a bold artistic and architectural statement that enhances the image of the city and the experience for both locals and convention attendees alike, according to Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach CVB.

“It’s a pedestrian bridge and an art piece, so I refer to it as a functional art piece,” he said.

When lit, the arched canopy reflects the contour or a wave, and the LEDs can be programmed for unique scenes.

“When you have 3,500 LEDs each individually programmed, it creates a myriad of images, with lights dancing up and down and perhaps a ‘Starry, Starry Night’ Van Gogh scene. There are so many possibilities,” Goodling said, adding that the design of the overall bridge was modeled a bit after the High Line in New York City, with seating areas and landscaping that encourages attendees to pause, collaborate and enjoy city views.

The Rainbow Bridge follows the opening last summer of one of the Long Beach Convention Center’s coolest venues to date: The Cove, which took cues from the designers who put together many of the amazing spaces for the annual TED conference, which was held in Long Beach for five years before moving to Vancouver.

The Cove, creating an atmosphere of hip urban elegance, is basically set in the area below an underpass, and its highlights include liberal and creative use of the setting's concrete pillars and ceilings, with crystal chandeliers, starfish and other marine motifs adorning the ceiling. A local food truck scene, various bars and diversions like glow-in-the-dark table tennis are available to groups who choose to meet at the venue.

“We’re seeing younger planners desiring very unique environments for attendees like Millennials, so we wanted to set new trends and make our venues turnkey experiences for groups, so they don’t have to pay extra for things like lighting and rigging,” Goodling said. “We’ve already imagined these unique spaces for them.”

The Long Beach Convention Center’s Pacific Ballroom is another such reimagined space that is turning heads among planners and groups. That venue opened in 2013 as the first part of the renovation initiative.

For more info on the project and future elements, keep an eye out for “The Cutting-Edge CC” story in the January 2018 edition of Meetings Today magazine, which will be available online near the start of the month.