Arts Council England
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Light festivals brighten up the North

As autumn arrives and the clocks are turned back, several cities in the North light up with a series of striking outdoor festivals.

All the festivals work with digital technology to create visual spectacles combining sound, music, fire and theatre with light. Imagining city spaces in new and dynamic ways, the festivals are free and allow everyone in the community to experience a range of dramatic work, such as Quays Culture’s neon heart in Salford which illuminated when two friends joined hands.

While the seven individual festivals themselves are not new, they have been brought together through our Light up the North project to develop their work while sharing skills and resources. Supported through our National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme with a total of £2,062,280, Light up the North covers seven towns and cities across the area -  Lancaster, Blackpool, Salford, Leeds, York, Durham and Newcastle.

Catherine Mitchell, Senior Relationship Manager, Arts Council England said, “The Arts Council plays a role in helping to develop the arts and cultural sector and I’m delighted that we have been able to bring a number of light festivals together to support their continued technological innovation and the development of incredible displays. Our cities, towns and parks are spectacularly transformed by light, allowing people to see their familiar surroundings in new and breath-taking ways. I’m sure that this year’s festivals will attract even more audiences and I’m looking forward to visiting all of them throughout the autumn.”

Our investment has helped raise the profile of the festivals, drawing in more visitors and creating economic benefit for the host cities and towns. The organisations involved have also been able to visit and learn from European festivals such as Eindhoven Glow, Staroriga and Helsinki Lux.

Light Night Leeds kicks off the light festival season on 5-6 October, followed by Lightpool (part of Blackpool Illuminations, 25-27 October), Light Up Lancaster (2-4 November), Lumiere (Durham, 16-19 November), Enchanted Parks (Newcastle Gateshead, 5-10 December) and Quays Culture: Lightwaves (Salford, 8-17 December). Illuminating York will return in 2018.

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