Lumiere is a light festival which started in Durham in 2009 and came to London for the first time in 2016 and now it’s back in London for 2018. The festival is full of light installations in public spaces and on buildings.
I went to Lumiere London in 2016 with no expectations and was amazed at what I saw. So, needless to say, I was very excited when I heard that Lumiere would be returning to London in 2018 and I went with high expectations. Unfortunately, I was really disappointed. It just didn’t have the same ‘wow’ factor that the festival had in 2016. But given it’s a free event, it’s still worth a visit!
We started at Westminster Abbey, (which was my favourite in 2016) and this year it was even better because they lit up the whole of the west towers in beautiful colours and it really makes you appreciate the cathedral even more.
The Light of the Spirit:
We then walked along Parliament Street towards Trafalgar Square where the square was filled with light balloons, which moved with wind machines and music. It looked impressive but I didn’t feel like it meant very much.
Last time, in trafalgar square there was an installation called the Plastic Islands where they filled the fountains in Trafalgar Square with plastic bottles, which I thought was quite a poignant way to explore the issues around the way we use plastic and how they affect the environment.
We then started to make our way toward Leicester Square but as we walked, we spotted what literally looked like a stairway to heaven at the top of St Martin-in-the-Fields. A bright pink neon ladder was lit up at the top of the building and we might not have even noticed it if we hadn’t looked up!
We then arrived into Leicester Square which had been turned into a secret night garden, filled with light animals and flowers. This was probably my second favourite (Westminster Abbey is my favourite) but it also seemed like one of the most popular, there was only one entrance into the little park in Leicester Square (in the top corner near Chiquitos) and one exit (near M&M world). I loved how they turned the fountain in the middle of the park into a lilly pond, with light frogs all around it.
The animal theme continued as we walked towards Chinatown, where there were a flock of pink flamingos, operated by humans which roamed around the streets of Chinatown. I quite liked these, and I really liked how they interacted with the public who pretended to feed them!
From here, we walked towards Piccadilly Circus which had been fully pedestrianised so that we could roam free and safely.
In 2016, this was really impressive – there was Les Lumineoles, Elephantastic and Keyframes – so I had really high hopes for the Piccadilly and Regent Street areas. Unfortunately, this is where I got really disappointed.
The hotel cafe Royal Building was lit up and a story plays which shows the journey through the Industrial Revolution, and this was cool, but I feel like after Westminster Abbey, it’s just not as impressive.
After that, we walked along Regent Street which was one of the highlights in 2016, and encountered some strange, lit up umbrellas carried by a team which was presumably choreographed. This looked disorganised and quite frankly, a bit pointless. I’m not sure what it was supposed to symbolise and it certainly didn’t have a ‘wow’ factor. I think they walk around different art installations generally so be prepared to spot them roaming around.
The Umbrella Project:
We then walked over to the nearby Carnaby Street where we saw two of the permanent light installations – the plug and bulbs which change colour and a woman who walks and walks and walks, called Shade Walking. 2015.
The Plug and Bulbs:
Shaida Walking. 2015:
There were lots of other light installations (there are over 50) so there’s plenty to see but this is just a snapshot of some of them. I mostly explored the West End which I thought was quite disappointing but there are more art installations in Mayfair and Kings Cross so check out. To see what I mean about Lumiere London 2016, you can see the different light installations by clicking here.
Because of all the light installations, Lumiere only takes place at night time – the lights are switched on at 5.30pm and turned off at 10.30pm each night. If you’re a photographer, I’d recommend taking a tripod with you – I decided not to because I didn’t want to carry it around but regretted it pretty quickly! Lots of other people brought their tripods with them and you’ll get much better photographs by taking it so it’ll definitely be worth it!
Lumiere London is taking place from 18 – 21 January 2018 and is free to visit. You can find out more about the Lumiere Light Festival here.
Have you visited Lumiere London? What did you think?