Let It Shine
It might be dark outside, but a major light festival has been given the green light to return to London, rivalling the capital’s annual illumination and lantern celebrations.The city’s largest night-time festival, Lumiere (18-21 Jan), was a hit when it premiered in 2009 in Durham in the north east of England, and when it launched in London in January 2016, 1.3 million visitors braved the chill to see 30 installations. The 2018 edition promises to be even bigger, with up to 50 installations.Lumiere London will light up King’s Cross and the West End and, for the first time, the festival will bring installations to Westminster, Victoria, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, South Bank and Waterloo. Look out for artworks with movement sensors and interactive works connected to apps.Around 50 UK and international artists will participate, while schools and volunteers from across the capital will showcase works made from reflective materials, neon lights and projections.
The festival is programmed and produced by the British live events charity, Artichoke, which was behind London’s Burning in 2016 – the festival that commemorated the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. Artichoke’s CEO and artistic director, Helen Marriage, says: ‘Lumiere London is about changing expectations – once illuminated, buildings you think you know change their shape and appearance; public spaces become places where strange and delightful things happen. It’s exciting because it makes everyone think differently about the city, and brings great art on to the streets, beyond the closed spaces of the gallery or concert hall.‘I’m thrilled that the Mayor of London has commissioned Artichoke to programme and produce the second edition of Lumiere London. The festival will transform the capital into a giant art exhibition without walls and everyone is invited.’
Lumiere London is set to rival Berlin’s acclaimed Festival of Lights, Lyon’s Fête de Lumières and Vivid Sydney – but to find out if that’s true, you’ll have to see the light yourself. www.visitlondon.com/lumiere
If Lumiere London feels too crowded, then Christmas at Kew at Kew Gardens is a peaceful alternative. Each year, a mile-long trail winds around the gardens, and this year it will be lit up by more than a million lights at night.In previous years, stops along the trail have been decorated with a tunnel of golden fairylights, trees dripping with Chinese lanterns, a garden of flaming torches and illuminated trees. Along the way you can roast chestnuts on a fire and little ones can meet Father Christmas. The finale – a 20-minute light and laser show in front of the Palm House – is the highlight.Nick Thompson, Kew’s senior commercial events manager, says: ‘This year’s new route has an array of newly commissioned light and sound installations. Between Art and Technology Studio, which has worked on projects for the Horniman Museum & Gardens and the Science Museum, will create an ephemeral ultraviolet walkway. ‘Elsewhere, the world’s longest double herbaceous border, The Great Broad Walk Borders, will form part of the trail for the first time with a host of giant trees lining the promenade, made from thousands of colourful, sparkling flowers complete with holographic petals. Also new this year is an ethereal spectacle of light and sound from artists Ithaca as visitors stroll over Kew’s lake, with the lake’s two islands slowly coming to life as angelic voices call and respond.’ www.kew.org
CHISWICK HOUSE & GARDENS
Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House & Gardens, meanwhile, returns for a second year with a whole new range of illuminated lanterns and sculptures.Last year’s display saw a Chinese dragon, a pat of flamingos and a dazzle of zebras – some of which appeared to float on water. This year there will be a new range of lantern sculptures, including Father Christmas and his reindeers. London will no doubt be dazzling this winter. www.chiswickhouseandgardens.org.uk