Anticipating Massive Crowds, Burlington Preps for the Eclipse | 2024 Solar Eclipse | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Anticipating Massive Crowds, Burlington Preps for the Eclipse


Published March 25, 2024 at 4:00 a.m.

  • Burlington City Arts
Preparations are well under way in Burlington for next month’s total solar eclipse, a once-in-a-lifetime event that’s expected to draw upwards of 50,000 people to the Queen City.

The April 8 eclipse will begin at 3:26 p.m. and last “a glorious three minutes,” as described on the website of Obscura BTV, the city’s official eclipse celebration. But it’s the hours before and after the midday darkness that will put the city’s planning — and the public’s patience — to the test.

“It is not a day to try to get anywhere in a hurry,” Zach Williamson, festival and event director with Burlington City Arts, said at an informational meeting on Thursday night.

Officials expect significant traffic congestion on the interstate and within city limits as thousands of vehicles flock to Burlington ahead of the event.

To accommodate arrivals, the city will close Route 127 — the Beltline — from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and turn it into a massive parking strip. Visitors can snag a spot for $30 and ride a shuttle that will drop them off near the waterfront, where crowds are expected to swell to two to three times the size of the annual July 3 fireworks event.

City garages will have special rates for those who want a prime viewing spot. People can pay $100 to park at the top of the downtown garage and $60 for access to the top of the Cherry Street garage.

“If you're somebody who wants to take pictures or have a telescope you want to set up, it's a great place to go,” Williamson said.

Williamson encouraged people to travel on foot or bike whenever possible, as the city also plans to close numerous roads to create pedestrian corridors and make it easier for shuttles and emergency vehicles to get around. They include parts of College Street, Battery Street and North Avenue. A map of the closures can be found here.
Public safety is another priority. Police Chief Jon Murad is expected to update the Burlington Police Commission next week on how his agency is preparing for the eclipse. In a PowerPoint posted ahead of that meeting, Murad wrote that he's not confident the city will be able to maintain steady traffic flow should crowds exceed 50,000.

He further warned that crowds of 75,000 or more will, "in all probability, create total gridlock in the city," and could shut down Interstate 89. "At that point," he wrote, "even emergency-vehicle movement cannot be guaranteed in the city."

Williamson said every available city police officer and firefighter will be working that day and that units will be strategically located in an attempt to cut down on response times. The city is also coordinating with the University of Vermont police and has contracted with two local private security firms to help keep the peace.

Most will be stationed at one of Burlington’s parks, where the city is hosting official viewing sites. Events are planned for Waterfront Park, Battery Park, Perkins Pier, Oakledge Park, City Hall Park, Roosevelt Park and Leddy Park.
A map of road closures - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • A map of road closures

One of the more unique offerings is a program at Oakledge Park for people with vision problems. The city will distribute a braille eclipse guide and host two sonic devices developed at Harvard that take changes in light and turn them into sound.

The parks will also have temporary bathrooms and merchandise tents selling branded eclipse swag, from T-shirts and posters to $3 commemorative glasses needed to safely view the eclipse. The glasses and other merch can also be purchased in the weeks leading up to the event at Burlington City Arts on Church Street.

A full list of events and merch offerings can be found at, which also includes a lengthy FAQ section for anyone interested in, for example, whether they can bring a drone (no) or whether the show will go on even if it's raining (yes).

The website encourages visitors to stick around Burlington after the sun returns to shop and eat. Not only would that help out the local economy, but it might also help cut down on traffic jams, Williamson said.

“The line that we are using is, ‘Arrive early and stay late,’” he said.

Consult the 2024 Vermont Solar Eclipse Guide for all our coverage including local eclipse events as well as places to eat, shop and play in the path of totality.

Vermont Vacation logo The 2024 Vermont Solar Eclipse Guide is sponsored by the Vermont Department of Tourism. Find more information to plan your trip at

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