Six years on it has become the UK’s largest light festival.

by James Powell

Six years on it has become the UK’s largest light festival.

Originally planned as a one-off, the first Lumiere took place in Durham in 2009, but six years on it has become the UK’s largest light festival. 

The Lumiere light festival has been hailed as another success – with a poignant touch being the emblazoning of Durham Cathedral in the tricolour to show solidarity with victims of the Paris attacks.

Organisers Durham County Council and Artichoke said despite some of the worst weather experienced since Lumiere was first staged in the city, crowds had flocked to the city for the fourth year of the festival.

Helen Marriage, director of Artichoke and artistic director of the event said: “It has been really fantastic.

“We have had huge audiences despite the inclement weather.

“We have had more than 150,000 through the city centre alone on the first three nights.”

One of the most talked about installations this year was was Mysticete, or The Whale, with crowds wowed by the ghostly projection of a whale playing in the River Wear near Elvet Bridge.

Ms Marriage said: “Sadly we had to cancel the whale on Sunday evening due to adverse weather conditions and rising water levels in the River Wear.”

Other installations that proved popular included Change Your Stripes, a projection that changed as people moved or jumped across it and Cloud and Litre of Light – a recreation of the cathedral’s Rose Window out of thousands of plastic bottles by local artist Mick Stephenson.

Ms Marriage said: “One the things that has been really lovely this time is the involvement of local people with international artists.

“The students at Durham School Sixth Form College collaborated with Storybox of New Zealand to create Precious, interviewed people from across the county about things they treasured.

“And in Home Sweet Home in Hawthorn Terrace a house came alive with true stories from people who live across County Durham.\"

Durham County Council leader Cllr Simon Henig said: “I have been on the streets on all the days and I think the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The artworks are among the best that we have had. The crowds appear to have been moving freely. It rained continuously yesterday (Saturday) and people were getting very wet, but still had smiles on their faces.\"

He added: “Special praise needs to be given to everyone who has been there as a volunteer or had any other part to play for the past several days.

Artichoke have done a fantastic job and Lumiere has been even more stunning than it has been in the past. We have every hope it will be back in two years.

“We feel that Lumiere has become synonymous with Durham and long may it continue.\"



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