Durham's Lumiere 2021 hailed a success after 140,000 visit spectacle

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This year’s Lumiere has been hailed a success after an estimated 140,000 people visited the spectacle.

The biggest outdoor event in the North East since lockdown, the bi-annual light festival featured 37 artworks spread across the county including, for the first time, an installation at Sunderland’s Penshaw Monument.

As well a national and international artists, the festival, which ran from November 18-21, included community involvement from 685 individuals, 25 schools and six BRILLIANT artists, across five creative Learning & Participation projects.

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Produced by creative company Artichoke, and commissioned by Durham County Council with additional support from Arts Council England, Durham University, this was the most ambitious Lumiere yet.

The "City of Light, City of Stories" lantern Display lights up College Green.The "City of Light, City of Stories" lantern Display lights up College Green.
The "City of Light, City of Stories" lantern Display lights up College Green.

For the first time since it began in 2009, Lumiere linked city and wider county through six bold commissions that transformed significant landmarks across County Durham from the Apollo Pavilion at Peterlee to Raby Castle at Staindrop.

In the city, audiences explored 31 extraordinary artworks, ranging from 40-member LED French Rock’n’Roll band (The Froggs by Groupe LAPS) in Market Place, to the interactive Tree of Hope at Prince Bishops Place and online, to the quietly contemplative Anthology: Into the Light, featuring the voices of eleven leading poets as their words were beamed onto Durham Castle.

Helen Marriage, Artichoke CEO and Lumiere Artistic Director said: “The numbers alone show the incredible scale and reach of this festival. "There is really nothing else like it. From the hundreds of local participants and volunteers to the artists, technicians, riggers, projectionists, security and crew, Lumiere is a massive operation. We have gone through so much uncertainty in the last 18 months, I can’t tell you how delighted we are to have been able to produce Lumiere in Durham once again”.

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“It’s been wonderful to see so many people out on the streets, enjoying themselves. The limited capacity we imposed in the centre due to social distancing made for a more relaxed and comfortable experience overall, while those without a ticket explored the artworks along Freeman’s Reach, Riverview, at Walkergate and up at the University, on the Ogden Building and St Mary’s College.

Solitude by Kari Kola at Finchale PriorySolitude by Kari Kola at Finchale Priory
Solitude by Kari Kola at Finchale Priory

"Everyone had a smile on their face and so many people have said to me how proud and excited they are that Lumiere is back.

“Huge thanks once again to Durham County Council who commission this festival and have done so much to support us in its delivery this year, and also to Arts Council England and the DCMS Cultural Recovery Fund, to Durham University and to all our wonderful partners and funders.”

Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “The atmosphere in County Durham this weekend has been truly magical, and I hope all those who attended Lumiere had a brilliant time.

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"It’s been wonderful to see family and friends together again, making memories and enjoying the breath-taking installations both in Durham City and, for the first time, at locations across the county.

With_Against by Tim Etchells at Seaham Marina.With_Against by Tim Etchells at Seaham Marina.
With_Against by Tim Etchells at Seaham Marina.

“I especially enjoyed seeing the installations produced in collaboration with schools and community groups. I can only imagine what it must have been like for those involved in these projects to see their creations lit up as part of a world-class event."