Lumiere London – visit this illuminating festival
Last Updated on 24th July 2020Reading Time: 5 minutes
Lumiere London is back! The UK’s largest light festival transforms London’s streets and architecture into dazzling, thought-provoking nocturnal art exhibitions. We last saw it back in 2016 when a whopping 1.3 million people attended. This year’s spectacle is from 18th – 21st January between 17:30 – 22:30 with over 50 illuminated installations to discover. Lift your spirits in these dark days of winter and see how many of them you can discover on an evening’s amble.
Lumiere London takes place in the key locations of King’s Cross, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, London’s West End and Westminister, with Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, Victoria, South Bank and Waterloo added as new destinations this year … and what more it’s all free! So whether you’re in London anyway, or on the commute home you should be able to spot a few of them! Find yourself looking “up” and around, rather than “down” into your iPhones as you navigate the city’s streets above ground. Maybe stumble across the many locations that consider themselves the centre of London at the same time?!
We started our journey in Westminster having already downloaded the Visit London app to save the installations we wanted to see first on the easy-to-use map. Check out the Lumiere official website too. Paper copies can be purchased as well. We started here as top of my must visit list was Westminster Abbey with its majestic old facade’s intricacies individually illuminated in this technicolor wonderment! This installation is called ‘The Light of the Spirit (chapter 2)’ and is by French vital artist Patrice Warrener. There’s no right or wrong way to view the event so start where you like and see as much or as little as you have time for.
So our illuminated journey took us from Westminster > Mayfair > Soho on Thursday night and Waterloo > South Bank > King’s Cross on Friday evening. We missed Covent Garden and Fitzrovia, but hey, you can’t see everything. Some installations are bigger than others, some are interactive, some are static, some are moving, some you go “wow”, others you go “meh” … but the one thing I noticed most was that lots of people had smile on their faces and more importantly it got people talking to each other – the tell-tale clues that they were taking part in Lumiere London being their SLRs and tripods crooked under their arm.
One tip is to factor in some foodage as part of your evening. In SoHo and along the South Bank you can easily find an eatery but there’s a dedicated outside food market up at King’s Cross and most importantly a big warm tent to shelter in.
So our favourite installations in no particular order were:
1. The Rose – Westminster
The aforementioned Westminster Abbey above by Patrice Warrener! Wow! But also The Rose by Mick Stephenson and Electric Pedals that uses thousands of recycled plastic bottles. A hot topic right now, and once again interactive as it requires people pedalling to power it.
2. The Wave – South Bank
with its constantly changing patterns of sound and light along the South Bank, by Vertigo. As you can walk through it you really feel part of the exhibit, before you then work out how best to capture it. I stood to the side and captured “ghost man” in the foreground.
3. Lampounette – King’s Cross
Paying homage to the iconic office lamp, by TILT. They fitted in so nicely it would be great if they could become permanent exhibits. A contemplative place to sit before you catch the train home.
4. Spectral – London’s West End
Colourful cords stretched taut between the trees, by Katarzyna Malejka and Joachim Slugocki. The park was pretty dark so heightened the effect, compared to other Lumiere London exhibits that were competing with the surrounding street lighting/lit-up shop fronts.
5. Lightbench – Mayfair
Transforming the concept of public seating, by Bernd Spiecker. This was the one where we saw most people talking to each other, sharing some jokes and taking each others’s photos. Wouldn’t it be nice if that could happen the other 361 days of the year too?
6. Neon Bikes – Mayfair
Now as I like all things “bike” there was something beautifully simple by seeing a bike represented in gleaming neon, by Robyn Wright. There are three to see – red, white and blue.
7. Illumaphonium – Mayfair
Close by was a wonderful multi-sensory, music-making glockenspiel which was @OnTheRoadToYou’s favourite so I’m adding that just for him. The higher the horizontal bar you struck, the deeper the tone. One of the few exhibits that had an aural element too.
8. Waterlicht – King’s Cross
This one was by equally “wow” and lead to many people thinking “Well how do they do that!?” The whole of Granary Square is covered with a blue ceiling of wavy, misty light. Whereas many installation look good from one angle, with this one you can wander around and get a different few every split second as the pockets of mist (I think it’s actually dry ice) captured the light bealing through it. By Daan Roosegaarde.
Overall thoughts are “Take a bow #LumiereLDN“. Having such a visual treat at the end of a cold January is just what the doctor ordered. It puts smiles on people’s faces and gets people talking to each other. There was a nice mix of favourites from two years’ ago but also much new stuff too. For every one person’s “Meh” to an installation, another person wil be going “wow!” so take a look, embrace it, and see if you can capture some amazing photos while meandering around parts of London you never get to see normally.
When is Lumiere London again?
4 evenings, 5.30pm-10.30pm, January 18-21 2018. Check out the official website.
Where is Lumiere London 2018?
All over the city, in King’s Cross, Fitzrovia, Mayfair, the West End, Westminster, with Covent Garden, Fitzrovia, Victoria, South Bank and Waterloo added as new destinations.
Is there an entry fee?
No. Lumiere London 2018 is a completely free event.
Share with your friends so they get the chance to see it before it ends too! 🙂