Lumiere festival

Lumiere festival
Status active
Genre light art
Frequency Bi-Annually in Durham, Occasional elsewhere
Location(s) Durham and touring
Country United Kingdom
Years active 2009–date
Established Durham, 2009
Most recent London, 2018
Organised by Artichoke

Lumiere is the UK's largest light festival.[1] The festival, produced by London-based creative company Artichoke, debuted in Durham in 2009.[2] The festival was part inspired by the Fête des lumières in Lyon.[3] Hosted in winter time, and free to attend, the festival typically comprises a number of light art-installations, as well as illuminating iconic buildings and locations.[4] The festival takes place biennially in November in Durham,[5] and since 2013 has occasionally toured to other locations, both reusing popular illuminations from Durham and creating new bespoke installations.


The first Lumiere festival took place in Durham in 2009 and has been recommissioned by Durham County Council every two years since then. 75,000 people attended the four-day event in 2009, the central exhibit of which was Durham Cathedral illuminated with projected images from the Lindisfarne Gospels.[6] The festival returned to Durham in 2011 at a significantly larger size, attracting more than 150,000 visitors and generating GB£4.3 million for the local economy.[7] A further event was held in 2013 with crowds of 175,000 and highlights including a 3D projection of a walking elephant installed over the Elvet Bridge.[8] The festival returned to Durham for the fourth time in November 2015, and has been scheduled to return for November 2017.[9]



In 2013 the light show was taken to Derry in Northern Ireland where almost 180,000 people visited 17 separate art installations around the city, including illuminated sculptures placed around the Peace Bridge and projections on Austins department store.[10] For the four nights of the festival, a fire garden was held at St Columb's Park.


In January 2016 the festival was brought to London for the first time, with light installations sited around Piccadilly, Grosvenor Square, and King's Cross.[11] The front of Westminster Abbey was illuminated with coloured light projected onto statues by artist Patrice Warrener.[12] 3-metre-high (9.8 ft) neon letters from the top of the Centre Point building were temporarily set up in Trafalgar Square and in Leicester Square a 'Garden of Light' was created by French artists TILT, centred around the statue of William Shakespeare.

On the Saturday, some installations had to be temporarily switched off and King's Cross station was evacuated due to overcrowding caused by the festival.[13][14]

In January 2018, the festival returned for its second London edition. For four days, over 50 works of art were on public display in King's Cross, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, West End, Westminster, Victoria, South Bank, and Waterloo.[15][16]

List of festivals

  • 2009: Durham
  • 2011: Durham
  • 2013: Derry
  • 2013: Durham
  • 2015: Durham
  • 2016: London
  • 2017: Durham
  • 2018: London


  1. Denham, Jess (12 November 2015). "Lumiere 2016: Light festival extravaganza returns to dazzle Durham". The Independent.
  2. Denham, Jess (15 January 2016). "Lumiere London 2016: Light festival dazzles capital for first time". The Independent.
  3. Heathcote, Edwin (14 January 2016). "Celebrations of light set our splendid cities ablaze". Financial Times.
  4. Monk, Victoria (13 January 2016). "Lumiere London: the UK's largest light festival comes to the capital". The Daily Telegraph.
  5. "Archive". Lumiere. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  6. "Festival of light attracts 75,000". BBC News. 19 November 2009.
  7. "Durham's Lumiere festival of light 'brought in £4.3m'". BBC News. 11 April 2012.
  8. "Lumiere light festival to return to Durham in 2015". ITV News. 20 January 2015.
  9. "Dates confirmed for Durham Lumiere 2017". ITV. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  10. "Londonderry Lumiere light show 'attracts 180,000'". BBC News. 2 December 2013.
  11. Dunn, James (15 January 2016). "Phone boxes full of fish and animated circuses light up London for capital's first Lumiere festival". Daily Mail.
  12. "Four-day Lumiere light festival opens in London". BBC News. 14 January 2016.
  13. "Lumiere London Festival: Installations switched off due to crowds". BBC News. 17 January 2016.
  14. Bullen, Jamie (16 January 2016). "Lumiere London: Organisers ask visitors to return on Sunday because of 'safety reasons'". London Evening Standard.
  15. "Lumiere London is back! 18-21 January 2018".
  16. "Everything You Need To Know About Lumiere London 2018". Londonist. 23 December 2017.
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