We visited the London Lumiere Light Festival at the weekend. This event, now, I believe in its second year, is a festival of light across the capital. Over 50 works of art light up the streets and architecture of London during this four day spectacular display as night falls.
This, the UK’s largest Light Festival is also free for all to enjoy. We also chose to download a map from the Lumiere website. You can do so for a selection of minimal costs. We needed it and it also gave details of the areas and each installation. So well worth a few quid.
The London Lumiere Light Festival
Hoards of people can be found traipsing through the streets of London to discover the stunning illuminations during these few evenings in January.
Whilst the London Lumiere Light Festival is now finished, I am sharing this so that we can all get the date in the diary for next January. It really is a sight to behold and a wonderful way to explore London on foot. Definitely one for the calendar.
Such is the varsity and spread of the displays that one would be well advised to plan in advance and spread their tour over a couple of evenings. Or as we did this year, with limited time and the inclement weather, take in as many as possible and hop on a tube where possible.
Many of the roads in London are closed during the festival, so the cheats way of jumping in a taxi, for the sake of time in moving from one area to another, is not really an option. Although, I am sure some of the sights could be enjoyed from the top of an open tour bus should one be brave enough to take on the will of the weather.
As was the case last year, heavy rain fell for much of the duration. But we placed our trust in the weather forecast on Saturday evening as the rain promised to stop at 4pm. And that it did!
Armed with our map and the warmest of clothing, we headed for Westminster. We were met by crowds eagerly awaiting seeing Westminster Abbey light up at 5.30. Such were the crowds that there were wardens in place to safely marshal people in and out of each of the installations.
Seeing Westminster Abbey in all of its splendour is always a treat and to see it lit up in this way on a cold January evening was just amazing. We were able to get close enough to see that this was all projection. So very clever.
This year the installations were spread across several areas; King’s Cross, Mayfair, London West End, Westminster and Victoria and all the way to Southbank and Waterloo.
A quick hop on the tube took us to Bond Street where we would follow the Mayfair trail.
First, South Molton Street for the ‘see-saw’ an interactive installation.
And then on to the tour of Mayfair.
The great thing about these events is that they take you to parts of London that you have never been – let alone heard of – like Brown Hart Gardens in Mayfair! Anyone?!
London has such a wonderful way of throwing up surprises even for those of us that have lived here all of our lives. Always a reason to return.
Brown Hart Gardens was to be the place where we got really lucky. Not only was the weather holding but we also got to see the The Umbrella Project by Cirque Bijou. This was a moving installation that appeared throughout the festival at the different locations.
On a rainy weekend in January it was just pure delight.
The Umbrella Project, Cirque Bijou
This could almost have been akin to singing in the rain – except there was no rain! Led by the Cirque Bijou, people carrying the beautiful colourful umbrellas danced around to music making the most stunning displays. We could have stayed and watched these forever.
Lightbench by Bernd Splecker
The next installation to find in Mayfair was the Lightbench in Weighhouse Street.
This one was real tricky to get a picture of without anyone sitting on it. But you’ve got to take your chances where you can. So I did!
We passed through Mayfair taking in the Northern Lights in Grosvenor Square and then ‘Was that a Dream?’ in Berkeley Square. Not all of the pictures came out so well with the lighting and some things, as we found, are better seen with the naked eye.
The thing that really struck us with these artworks was seeing how the projections were actually working. Mind-blowing and fascinating – and we were, of course only seeing the end result in the projections. All testament to the skill and hard work that had gone into creating each display.
Hotel Café Royal, Piccadilly Circus
As I mentioned, many of the London streets were closed for the event. This included Piccadilly Circus which was just eerie. Necessary though, in order to take in the wonderful display on the Hotel Café Royal.
The little flash that you see in the picture above was to begin the sequence of music and illuminations projected on to the façade of the Hotel Café Royal. You can see more below.
So, on the basis that we all need a little light in our life as January starts to take its toll, the London Lumiere Light Festival is the perfect anecdote to the cold and dark evenings that can be typical of this month.
We will certainly plan better and visit again next year.
What about you? Did you get the opportunity to go? Or do you have a similar event where you live?