Kingston expecting 500K visitors for total solar eclipse: ‘Be prepared for traffic delays’

Click to play video: 'Kingston, Ont., preparing for total solar eclipse'
Kingston, Ont., preparing for total solar eclipse
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Kingston says it’s preparing for up to half a million people to visit the city for next month’s total solar eclipse.

Officials are warning the influx of visitors — which would more than triple the city’s population — is likely to lead to traffic delays and residents are being asked to consider staying close to home to watch the celestial event.

“The entire city will be in the path of totality, so once you have high-quality solar eclipse glasses, you can experience the eclipse from anywhere in town,” the city said in a release touting ways  to “celebrate the celestial event safely.”

“Residents of Kingston should view the eclipse in their neighbourhood or close to where they live to minimize the amount of traffic on the roadways.  ”

On the afternoon of April 8, southern Ontario will be in the path of totality, which means the region will be plunged into complete darkness, something that hasn’t happened here in centuries.

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Sunny Bajaj/Global News

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, aligning perfectly and completely blocking the sunlight.

Typically, a total solar eclipse is visible once roughly every 18 months or once every one to two years from somewhere on Earth, but for a given location this can be a very rare occurrence coming after a gap of centuries.

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It’s the first total solar eclipse in nearly 700 years in Kingston and the city is considered one of the best areas to experience the rare event.

“It’s a beautiful, natural phenomenon and it allows us to actually think about our place in the universe,” said Robert Knobel, associate professor and head of the department of physics, engineering physics and astronomy at Queen’s University, previously told Global News.

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“It really allows us a chance to experience astronomical phenomena, just by walking outside.”

Kingston has been preparing for an influx of people, with Visit Kingston previously telling Global News hotel rooms are booking up with tourists from as far away as Japan.

But Tuesday marked the first time the city has put a number on exactly how many tourists it is expecting.

The moon moves in front of the sun during an annular solar eclipse, or ring of fire, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, as seen from San Antonio, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay

The city said road closures are planned and “additional detours should be expected April 8.”

To help with the expected traffic problems, the city says it will be offering free bus service in Kingston on April 8 and officials are asking residents to avoid driving if possible.

“Be prepared for traffic delays,” the city said in its release.

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“With the increased traffic on the roads, we ask everyone to consider taking public transit, walking or cycling to get to their destination.”

A number of sites will be set up throughout Kingston to provide a place for people to view the eclipse on April 8, including a free event planned at Grass Creek Park from 1 to 5 p.m.

The Grass Creek Park event will include live entertainment, food trucks and educational programming, the city said.

More details about everything planned in Kingston for the eclipse can be found on the city’s website.

Click to play video: 'Queen’s University providing eyewear for Solar Eclipse'
Queen’s University providing eyewear for Solar Eclipse

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