A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Lumiere London is the UK's biggest light festival, taking place over 4 nights, bringing the crowds from near and far. Showcasing the capital's architecture and streets, you'll find over 50 installations from local and international artists in 6 central locations.
The visions of artists will come alive in this free outdoor art exhibition covering both north and south sides of the Thames River. The spectacular nocturnal displays will dazzle the city in the areas of Kings Cross, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, London's West End, Westminster & Victoria, and South Bank & Waterloo.
Here are some highlights within each site:-
Home to a thriving restaurant scene and the Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 ¾, the Kings Cross area has several interesting light displays. I'm liking the pretty field of Entre les Rangs (translated as Between the Ranks) by Canadian Rami Bebawi/KANVA in Lewis Cubitt Park. Take a sensory stroll here, where thousands of illuminated flower-like reflectors pay tribute to fields of wheat that shimmer in the wind as the seasons pass.
Nearby is another fascinating, if not eerie, landscape of light called Waterlicht. Dutch artist Daan Roosegarrde transforms Granary Square into a dream-like virtual flood that underlines the power and poetry of water whilst contemplating the future potential of floating cities. You can use your mobile devices and headphones to tune into the accompanying soundtrack.
Other eye-catching displays at this location include Lampounette by French studio Tilt at King's Boulevard with its giant lamps paying homage to the iconic office desk lamp, and IFO (Identified Flying Object) by Jacques Rival in Battle Bridge Place, a giant neon birdcage you can walk through with a swing inside that you can hop on. The latter is a permanent display.
This area is bound by Regent's Park, Marylebone and Soho, and it's where you'll find all manner of museums, including the fabulous British Museum with its Egyptian mummies and ancient manuscripts.
Cosmoscope is a light sculpture developed by scientists and artists Simeon Nelson, Nick Rothwell and Rob Godman. It takes inspiration from the study of the universe, blood flowing through the human heart and the order and disorder of atoms and molecules. Exploring structures, patterns and similarities of these scientific areas, you'll see it lighting up Store Street.
Over in Fitzroy Place is Droplets by Ulf Pedersen with a captivating pattern of sounds across 12 animated water droplets, each toned to a different note. Then there's Control No Control by Daniel Iregui in Whitfield Gardens, an interactive LED sculpture where you manipulate the graphics with your body to create various shapes.
This luxury hub boasts 5 star hotels and gourmet restaurants, galleries and upmarket boutiques with world-famous retailers in an upscale district of Georgian townhouses.
The installations are spectacular as well and if you've never been to see the Northern Lights then you can capture Aleksandra Stratimirovic's dynamic version at this festival. The Swedish artist has carefully programmed a story of the dancing Aurora Borealis lights that will transform Grosvenor Square into its own unusual phenomenon.
A different illumination in South Molton Street is Impulse by Lateral Office and CS Design. Inspired by Joy Division's album Unknown Pleasures as well as Steve Reich's music, lighted see-saws create various musical sounds depending on your movements when you sit and play on them.
Another engaging musical installation in this area is that of Illumaphonium by UK musician and inventor Michael Davis. This semi-acoustic, multi-sensory and multi-player musical sculpture in Mount Street (opp. Connaught Hotel) consists of more than 100 illuminated chime bars that respond to touch. Ever-changing patterns of light and sound spread out like waves over the instrument's surface making for a mesmerising experience.
London's West End
The most central area of the 6 locations is London's West End, with entertainment in Piccadilly Circus at its core. A hive of activity can be found here on any given day with blockbuster theatre showings, entertainment venues and restaurants drawing the crowds. World-famous shopping streets, such as Oxford Street and Regent Street, draw you in and your wallet out.
Add to this scene the neon installations of the festival and you have magic in more ways than one. What's sure to bring traffic to a standstill is Voyage, an installation with a clock at its centre that takes us on a journey through time and space as the hands of the clock swing around. From the Belle Epoque to the Industrial Revolution and the frantic speed of travel to present day, it's an extraordinary passage through the years. Created by freelance designers, Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein, it is projected on the Hotel Cafe Royal building and is best viewed from Piccadilly Circus. You might also want to arrive early and enjoy an afternoon tea at the Oscar Wilde Bar in this luxury hotel or opt for a cocktail later on in the historic Green Bar.
In the Chinatown area of West End, north of Leicester Square, you'll find Flamingo Flyway. This series of flame-coloured birds created by the Lantern Company, with Jo Pocock, parade serenely overhead to reference the intercontinental migration routes that birds take each year and the parallels to human migration routes across the world. The colourful characters are an extension of the Nightlife installation that transforms Leicester Square Gardens into an illuminated world of nocturnal creatures.
If you have time, explore the LEGO store at Leicester Square and M&Ms World for chocolate goodies.
Westminster & Victoria
This site stretches between Trafalgar Square and Victoria with an array of historic churches and palaces, known for hosting royal weddings and galas. Tranquil green areas for relaxation also dot the area.
One of the most colourful projections in this area will be the Light of the Spirit (Chapter 2) on the magnificent Westminster Abbey. Created by French digital artist Patrice Warrener, the first chapter was screened at Lumiere in 2016 and this latest instalment of kaleidoscopic illuminations brings sculptural details that highlight the architecture of the abbey. Projections will be on the facade of the Great West Gate.
Near to the abbey is the other big attraction of the area, the Big Ben clock tower. You'll want photos of this Gothic tower if you've never been to London before.
Over near Victoria at Westminster Cathedral is The Rose, an installation made from thousands of recycled plastic bottles. Put together by Mick Stephenson with Electric Pedals, it shows how simple technology can change lives around the world. For many, light is a luxury and these pedal-powered bicycles transform this rose window into beautiful illuminated art. It asks us to acknowledge alternative technologies to support everyday lives. You can also join in on the pedalling and work off some of those Christmas calories.
Soak up the city's culture on the south side with theatres, art, restaurants and pubs, providing a wealth of heritage. See the National Theatre, the Old Vic, Shakespeare's Globe, Florence Nightingale Museum, the Southbank Centre, London Dungeon and of course that big icon towering along the Thames' South Bank, the Coca Cola London Eye. It will light up during Lumiere with a dynamic display called Eye Love London.
Another beacon of light in this area is The Wave, designed by Danish company Vertigo. Walk through its 40 triangular gates and create your own experience of light and sound along Riverside Walkway on the South Bank. Laugh, shout, dance and run to get the gates responding in different patterns.
Visit the website for more of the wonderful installations across the city and be sure to plan your trip to make the most of the festival. There's maps of each area and a free app you can download to save your favourite installations and help you navigate around the city. The festival areas are well connected to the Tube stations and bus routes. It is also easy to walk around between many of the installations.