Cirque du Soleil has a new home at National Harbor, and a more centrally-located one at that.
Cirque’s Amaluna show begins July 31 at the new National Harbor events site on Waterfront Street and St. George, much closer to the waterfront downtown area than the former plateau site up the hill.
Faced with the pending construction of the MGM National Harbor casino on the former plateau site that hosted the popular acrobatics and circus show in the past, National Harbor developer The Peterson Cos. had to determine how best to host the show in 2014.
Originally, the company planned to use the eastern end of the MGM site, but that idea became less attractive as more work began on the casino, said National Harbor General Manager Kent Digby.
Instead, MGM built out a new permanent event space on an empty lot that’s adjacent to the neighborhood’s waterfront downtown area that held the ICE! exhibit in the winter for the past several years.
The new site, called the Plateau at Downtown National Harbor, will be the new home for other National Harbor events, including the beer and barbecue festival, Oktoberfest and the start and finish of various races and endurance events.
Peterson hopes the location will be even more beneficial for Cirque du Soleil, which has hosted several events in the Prince George’s County development since 2008 and will return with another show in 2016.
“We think they’ll do even better there, because it’s easier for the customer,” said Digby. “They can park at any garage, and easily walk there. There are many benefits.” Cirque du Soleil will also have dedicated guest parking on another empty lot across from its show site and traffic control officers to help keep cars moving through National Harbor’s downtown before and after the performances.
Amaluna is the latest creation from Cirque du Soleil, featuring a cast that’s 70 percent women and directed by Tony Award-winning director Diane Paulus. In addition to themes of femininity and rebirth, the show features a new attraction in the uneven bars, as well as a massive water bowl for water acrobatics that holds 1,500 liters of water.
Peterson expects the show — which frequently sells out it's more popular nights — to be a boon for other retail and restaurant businesses in the neighborhood during the traditionally slower month of August.
During the show’s run, restaurants typically see a 20 percent increase in sales year-over-year, Digby said. The company has been encouraged by the recent uptick in foot traffic at National Harbor, which increased 26 percent in May and June over those months in 2013, he added.
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