Image: Sydney Opera House
World Wildlife Fund  /  World Wildlife Fund
Earth Hour was first organized in Sydney, Australia in 2007.
Image:
By Travel writer
msnbc.com contributor
updated 3/25/2010 9:30:55 AM ET 2010-03-25T13:30:55

Attention travelers and aliens assigned to monitor our planet from outer space: you may notice major landmarks, tourist attractions, and large areas of many cities and towns around the world going dark for an hour on March 27.

Do not be alarmed. It’s just Earth Hour, a rolling, global black-out designed to draw attention to climate change. First organized in Sydney, Australia back in 2007, during last year’s Earth Hour there were voluntary lights-out events in 87 countries. This year, millions of people, more than 115 countries, thousands of cities and hundreds of major attractions and landmarks worldwide have pledged to switch off the lights for an hour as well. 

The carefully choreographed event will kick off Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. local time in New Zealand’s Chatham Islands and then follow time zones around the globe, ending with an hour of darkness in the South Pacific island of Samoa almost 25 hours later. And no matter where you stand on the issue of global warming or the ability of a single, simple event to make a difference, it will be impressive to see so many usually-lit places go dark, if just for an hour.

Where will the lights go out?
The World Wildlife Fund, which organizes Earth Hour, announced earlier this week that there are 45 participating national monuments and landmarks, so far, from the United States alone. Event spokesman Jonathan Barnes says more cities and attractions from around the world are joining every day, and he expects some to be added up to the very last minute. Be sure to check the event Web site if your favorite spot makes it on the list.

Image: Empire State Building, New York
Jin Lee  /  World Wildlife Fund
The iconic Empire State Building is scheduled to go dark during Earth Hour.
Some of the iconic buildings around the world scheduled to go dark during Earth Hour include: the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Empire State Building in New York, the Sears/Willis Tower in Chicago, the Space Needle in Seattle, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, and both the National Cathedral and the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, D.C.

Lights will also be switched off at 39 Broadway theaters in New York City, the St. Louis Arch, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Santa Monica Pier, and at many properties along the Las Vegas Strip, as well as at Rome’s Trevi Fountain.

“We’ll turn off external lighting, including marquees and other decorative lighting,” says Jacqueline Peterson of Harrah’s Entertainment, which owns nine hotels in Las Vegas, “But the lights will not go out in the casino areas.”

Lights out, entertainment on
Just because the lights will be out, it doesn’t mean you’ll have to be quiet. In fact there are concerts (unplugged, of course) scheduled in Toronto, Stockholm, Singapore and many other cities, as well as a candlelight vigil accompanied by music set to take place at the spectacular Victoria Falls, between Zambia and Zimbabwe. In South Africa, host of this year’s FIFA World Cup, there will be an Earth Hour soccer game played with a glow-in-the-dark ball, by players wearing glow-in-the dark socks and shoelaces, on a playing field with glow-in-the-dark field lines and goal posts.

Image: Golden Gate Bridge
World Wildlife Fund
Lights will also be switched off on San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

Hotel guests, bring your night light
Hotels and inns around the world are participating in Earth Hour as well. Hundreds of Starwood Hotels, which include St. Regis, Sheraton, W, Westin, Aloft and other branded properties, will turn off or dim exterior and interior lighting on signs and use candles in restaurants, bars and other public places. Forty-eight Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will be holding special candlelit dinners, The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney will go an extra step and light only carbon neutral candles made from Australian beeswax.

At the Inn of the Spanish Garden in Santa Barbara, Ca., guests will be issued glow sticks that can be used in their (voluntarily) darkened rooms during Earth Hour or when ordering complimentary wine during an Earth Hour gathering in the lobby. “We may even have a glow stick contest of some sort,” says hotel marketing director Erika Sime.

Lights out at some airports too
Although they won’t be turning off runway lights, tower lights or other lights needed for safe take-offs and landings, there are some airports that are once again looking forward to participating in Earth Hour.

Image: LAX pylon lights
World Wildlife Fund
LAX is marking Earth Hour with a special light show.
London’s Luton Airport will be turning off its illuminated logo. Singapore Changi Airport will dim many lights in the terminal buildings and in the malls. In Canada, both the Calgary International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport plan to turn off lighting that doesn’t affect operations or significantly inconvenience the traveling public.

And at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Earth Hour will once again be noted with a special light show that makes uses of the iconic 100-foot-tall LAX Gateway pylons that stand at the airport’s entrance. The pylons have 16 million color possibilities, but on March 27, the pylon lights will be programmed to glow a steady, solid green between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. and to turn off completely between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. After that, the lights will go back on and resume their everyday, color-changing display.

Planning to celebrate Earth Hour in your town or on the road? Tell us about it in the comments below. And check the Earth Hour Web Site to find Earth Hour events in your city or one you may be visiting.

Harriet Baskas is a frequent contributor to msnbc.com, authors the “Stuck at the Airport” blog and is a columnist for USATODAY.com.You can follow her on Twitter.

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