Lumiere 2016: Light festival extravaganza returns to dazzle Durham

There are 29 exciting installations to explore throughout the northern city

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The Independent Culture

Lumiere has returned to light up Durham this weekend, with a mysterious glowing fog, 3D whale and Cathedral projections among the display’s most beautiful highlights.

Beginning today, Thursday 12 November, and running through till Sunday, the annual festival sees the northern city come alive at night to the delight of hundreds of thousands of tourists.

Fujiko Nakaya’s “Fogscape #03238” is one of 29 installations featured in the Lumiere line-up. The Japanese artist is known for her pioneering fog sculptures and this ethereal latest creation can be found weaving through trees at the base of the Cathedral, overlooking the River Wear.


Catherine Garret’s huge 3D whale “Mysticete” is an extraordinarily lifelike apparition, also in the river, that explores our relationship with nature and our impact on it.


Stunning images of the universe will will be projected onto the Cathedral as part of “The World Machine” collaboration between the artists, cosmologists, historians and philosophers of Durham University. 

Not to be upstaged by the Cathedral, Durham Castle is the canvas for “Fool’s Paradise” from Newcastle-based studio NOVAK, soundtracked by Ed Carter. This animation reimagines the castle as a city on a hill, jam-packed with references to local folklore and fairytales. 

The shape of Janet Echelman’s billowing aerial sculpture is informed by Nasa data from the 2010 Chilean tsunami and made from thousands of feet of knotted twine. Suspended over the river, audiences can manipulate the coloured light using a specially-designed app.


Durham locals are actively involved in this year’s festival, too. Projection artwork “Home Sweet Home” features residents and explores poignant stories about the places we call home. “Precious”, made by the same collective Shared Space and Light, sees local people talking about their most treasured things.

Some 250 locals are also seen seemingly scrambling up the viaduct arches in Spanish artist Daniel Canogar’s video installation, “Asalto Durham”.

Lumiere is the UK’s largest light festival and in 2013, was attended by a record 175,000 people over four days. It is part of light festivals network Lighting Up the North, which holds festivals in seven cities across the north of England, including Leeds, Blackpool, Lancaster, Gateshead and Manchester.

The festival will visit London for the first time from 14-17 January.