240,000 flock to Durham’s Lumiere spectacular

Durham City Lumiere Light Festival 2017.
Durham City Lumiere Light Festival 2017.

Almost a quarter of a million people marvelled at this year’s Lumiere spectacular.

With the four-day festival drawing to a close last night, organisers have revealed that 240,000 people are estimated to have flocked to the free event.

Durham City Lumiere Light Festival 2017.'Illumaphonium

Durham City Lumiere Light Festival 2017.'Illumaphonium

In total there were 29 installations spread across the city, with highlights including a syncronised artwork of sound and light by Spanish artist Pablo Valbuena at Durham Cathedral while Miners’ Hall at Redhills was brought to life by a 3D video-mapped piece by Shared Space & Light, featuring real-life stories from the workers in the police, fire and health services.

Other highlights at the festival, which runs every two years in Durham City, included the mesmerising Frequencies by Finnish artist Kari Kola, which stretched along the Riverside under the Cathedral up to Durham Castle. Another firm favourite was For The Birds in Durham University’s Botanic Garden, an enchanting collection of more than twenty light and sound installations inspired by birdlife.

Lumiere is produced by Artichoke, the UK’s leading producers of art in the public realm, and commissioned by Durham County Council with additional support from Arts Council England, Durham University and a host of further funders and supporters.

Helen Marriage, CEO Artichoke, said: “I think this has been my favourite Lumiere festival so far. Part of the joy of programming this festival is thinking about ways to keep it fresh and new each time, and I think we really have achieved that.

Durham City Lumiere Light Festival 2017.'White Line

Durham City Lumiere Light Festival 2017.'White Line

“Of course some pieces appealed to some more than others, but with 29 separate installations, I think Lumiere offered something for everyone. At the same time we continued to push the boundaries of what is possible, including creating Pablo Valbuena’s once-in-a-lifetime work at Durham Cathedral - an extraordinary technical feat of synchronicity, involving 60 bell ringers triggering lights and exploring this iconic building as an artwork in its own right.”

Coun Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council, said: “Lumiere has once again offered us the chance to showcase our beautiful city, our unique history and heritage and our wonderful people on a world stage.

“I am also delighted that, as always, the public have shown their huge affection for this event by turning out in the tens of thousands to enjoy the 29 artworks that have illuminated Durham City in new and exciting ways.

“Together the five editions of Lumiere have seen more than 800,000 people counted through the peninsula entry points alone and I anticipate that the £21 million in economic benefits delivered by the first four festivals will rise significantly once we evaluate the 2017 edition.

“Around 1,300 people have also had the chance to be part of the event thanks to the community outreach programme, which can provide life-changing opportunities.

“We have also hosted guests from as far apart as Canada, Switzerland, Senegal and Russia. This is without doubt the most international of the Lumiere events we have hosted and I would like to thanks the public, volunteers, staff and of course Artichoke for another truly world class event.”

Lumiere 2017 in numbers

• 240,000 visitors over four nights

• 29 separate installations including For the Birds, a collection of 20 different artworks

• 80 technicians to build the festival

• 315 volunteer festival-makers

• 60 bell ringers from Durham, North East and as far away as Cambridge

• 66 local people aged 6-75 years-old imprinted into the illustration of Our Moon

• 700 primary school pupils from 25 schools across the county took part in Cosmoscope workshops

• 2,000 shards of glass for What Matters at St Oswald’s Church

• 12,000 LED light bulbs for Cosmoscope

• 15,000 stems planted in Cathedral Cloister for Entre Les Rangs