This November, landmarks across Durham will be transformed by artists from around the world as part of the Durham Lumiere Light Festival.

Iconic sights like Durham Cathedral and Durham Castle will feature in captivating light shows and exhibitions that celebrate the heritage of the historic city.

What is the Durham Lumiere?

Founded in 2009, the Durham Lumiere takes place every two years, and is the largest light festival in the UK. It is produced by Artichoke, an arts charity that works with artists to ‘invade’ public spaces, staging innovative exhibitions outside of traditional theatres and galleries. In addition to the Lumiere Festival, Artichoke has previously worked on projects such as London’s Burning, an event that marked the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London by burning a 140m long scale model of the city as it was in the 17th Century, and The Sultan’s Elephant, in which a giant mechanical elephant paraded through the streets of London.

The biggest attractions at the Lumiere Light Festival usually feature the city’s most famous landmarks, such as Crown of Light, which celebrated the rich history of the North-East by projecting images from the Lindisfarne gospels across the front of Durham Cathedral.

Previous years at the Festival

In addition to Crown of Light, which has been staged at the Festival several times, other attractions in previous years have included Les Voyageurs (The Travellers), an installation by French artist Cédric Le Borgne that saw illuminated figures sat on rooftops and frozen in mid-flight in the sky above the city. Tracey Emin’s distinctive neon handwriting featured in 2011 in an exhibition called Be Faithful to Your Dreams, and in 2015 Fujiko Nakaya and Simon Corder ‘conjured up the spirit of St Cuthbert’s mist’ with Fogscape #03238.

The Lumiere has also toured several cities around the UK, including London and Derry-Londonderry, and is due to return to London in 2018.

What’s on at this year’s Lumiere Festival?

Many exhibitions are still to be announced for this year’s Lumiere Festival, but the organisers have offered a brief description of some of the headline attractions.

Spanish artist Pablo Valbuena will collaborate with Durham Cathedral’s Bell Major, Christopher Crabtree, and the Durham Cathedral Bell Team to transform the imposing building using sound and light. Inspired by the 17th century art of ‘change ringing,’ in which bells are rung in strict numerical sequences to produce elaborate tonal effects, the specially commissioned exhibition will visualise the ringing of the bells in spectacular light shows, ‘projecting a synergy of sound and visual time-based patterns onto both the interior and exterior of the cathedral.’

In keeping with the community-led spirit of the festival, Our Moon by British artist Hannah Fox invites participation from the city’s locals. It will project a hand-drawn illustration across the walls of Durham Castle, which will then be animated using the digitally captured faces of 66 Durham residents aged between 5 and 78 years old.

When does the Lumiere Light Festival take place?

Over 200,000 people are expected to attend this year’s festival, which runs between the 16th-19th November, featuring attractions across the city. Lumiere London is due to return on 18th January 2018. Tickets are not yet available for either event, but visit the Lumiere Festival website to keep up-to-date with the latest news and ticket information.

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