Lumiere Durham 2013, 14th-17th November


Festival organisers delighted with Lumiere’s success as tens of thousands of visitors flood into Durham for world class light festival

The third edition of Lumiere Durham, Durham’s popular light festival came to a close, Sunday 17th November at 11pm. First estimates put the number of visitors at around 175,000 attending the festival over four nights. The festival is produced by leading creative company, Artichoke, and commissioned by Durham County Council. The event is also supported by Arts Council England and a raft of sponsors and funding bodies.

Artichoke says that early estimates indicate that 175,000 people attended the festival over four nights, and the city’s restaurants and hotels were full to bursting over the weekend. The event passed off safely and without incident.

This year, to spread the crowds, the festival had extended opening times and a free ticketed system during peak hours in the central area for the first time.

Visitors from all over the world flocked to the festival to see the 27 light sculptures and installations, while the longer opening times enabled people to choose the most appropriate time to visit the festival.

Elephantastic, a larger-than-life 3D elephant marching through a specially-constructed arch on Elvet Bridge was a clear festival favourite.

On North Road, crowds applauded at the end of each cycle of the Keyframes mini-drama, which saw LED stickmen taking over the former Durham Miners’ Hall, to the strains of Lee Dorsey’s “Working in a coalmine” recorded by young people from Durham County Wind Band.

A marriage proposal was made at Solar EquationRafael Lozano-Hemmer’s shimmering animated replica of the sun, which features the world’s largest custom-made spherical helium balloon. Nearby, visitors queued at the scanning booth to scan their own eyes and see the images added to Gina Czarnecki’s artwork, which was beamed onto the façade of the Bill Bryson library.

The sound of birdsong by night drew audiences into St Oswald’s Churchyard to explore Sarah Blood’s illuminated birdhouses that filled hidden pockets with light and sound.

Further down on Old Elvet, people gathered around Greenhouse Effect, four electric cars filled with glowing displays of artifical plants, before moving on toNathaniel Rackowe’s Platonic Spin in Crown Court Gardens

Crown of LightRoss Ashton’s glorious historical son et lumiere attracted record numbers, as did Atsara’s quietly mesmerizing installation and soundscape inside and in the gardens behind.

Educational and Public Outreach

Lumiere worked with partners to deliver outreach projects in local schools and the community in the lead-up to the event.

More than 600 schoolchildren across County Durham took part in workshops about Litre of Light, the campaign bringing alternative light sources to people in parts of the world where electricity is either too expensive or not available at all.

Around 200 people attended the Durham University public science event about the eye in art and science. Artist Gina Czarnecki together with some of the University’s leading academics presented a series of talks which explained in simple terms how the human eye works, its evolution and impact on perception, and the way artists and scientists had worked together on the project.

As part of its outreach to the wider community, Lumiere worked with offenders in Durham’s three prisons and a youth remand centre. Over 100 prisoners and their families created artworks, which were displayed together to form a huge illuminated wall in the Galilee Chapel inside Durham Cathedral. The artworks will be returned to be exhibited inside the institutions, following Lumiere.

Art Means Business Conference

Artichoke and Durham County Council hosted this one-day international conference for Lumiere. Visionaries and policymakers from the worlds of urban planning, local government and business shared their ideas for how the creative industries can offer innovative solutions for intractable problems and re-imagine the city in the twenty-first century.

Helen Marriage, Lumiere’s Artistic Director said:

“We are delighted with the success of this third edition of Lumiere. It’s been wonderful to how much everyone has enjoyed it this year. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We made many improvements to the way the festival has been organised this year, to ensure visitors had an unforgettable experience that was comfortable as well as enjoyable.

“Once again, Artichoke would like to say a huge thank you to the visionary Durham County Council, and its wonderfully innovative approach to cultural tourism”.

Cllr Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said:

“Lumiere 2013 has been breathtaking, thought provoking, entertaining and an overwhelming success for tens of thousands of festival-goers and very many businesses.

“I confidently predict a very significant economic boost to the county linked to the opportunities delivered by this world class event. Just as important though is the immense sense of pride we can take in knowing we have worked together to showcase just some of the very best we have to offer in County Durham.

“Huge thanks to Artichoke, the very many council staff and our partners at Durham Constabulary, the Cathedral and Durham University for their superb support. Thank you too to the public who have embraced Lumiere and helped us all to shine.”

Full details of the programme for Lumiere Durham can be found on the Lumiere festival website.


Artichoke will also stage Lumiere as one of the closing events for Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013. Lumiere Derry~Londonderry will take placeThursday 28 November – Sunday 1 December 2013. Details of the full programme for Lumiere Derry~Londonderry can be found on

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