Light Festivals around the worldBack to all
January 19th, 2018
If the dazzling displays of this year’s Lumiere London ignite your love of light art, you might want to explore some of the world’s other light festivals next winter.
From well established events to lesser know celebrations offering a spotlight on new talent, light festivals offer a unique way to experience a destination and see the world. Installations can highlight architectural heritage and allow you to discover historical and contemporary buildings, parks, squares and bridges alongside the work of local and international artists.
As light events become increasingly popular, there’s more than ever to choose between. Start planning a trip now, and winter 2018-19 will look brighter already.
A spectacular sight
The world’s most well known light festivals attract millions of visitors with bigger and better light displays every year. Berlin Illuminated: The Festival of Light (5-14 Oct 2018, festival-of-lights.de/en) lights up the city for 10 days each October, transforming famous landmarks and monuments such as the Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Cathedral with projections and video art. Hugely popular — and totally free — it attracts 2 million visitors annually.
If you want a light festival with history, Lyon’s famous Fetes Des Lumieres (every Dec, fetedeslumieres.lyon.fr/en) dates all the way back to 1852, when the people of the town first decorated their windows with candles to celebrate the Virgin Mary — a tradition that continues to this day. Now the twinkling window lights are joined by spectacular light projections across the city.
Australia’s Vivid Sydney (25 May —16 June 2018, vividsydney.com) combines spectacular light shows with live music and creative debates and discussions. The famous sails of the Sydney Opera House become a canvas for multicoloured projections, while attractions including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Darling Harbour and Torongo Zoo are transformed by light. You can even become part of the show yourself, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a flashing vest for a bird’s eye view of the projections.
Explore a new destination
As well as shining new light on well known destinations, light festivals also provide an ideal opportunity to discover somewhere completely new — such as the unique destination of Macao, which holds a spectacular light festival every December.
Just 40 miles from Hong Kong, Macao has a unique Portuguese-Chinese heritage and is one of the Far East’s most exciting destinations. Highlights include the UNESCO World Heritage listed “Historic Centre of Macao”, featuring buildings of both Portuguese and Chinese origin, the Macau Tower – home to the world’s highest bungy jump – and vibrant nightlife with bars, nightclubs, casinos and the spectacular House of Dancing Water show. Macao’s food is legendary – from Michelin-starred restaurants to local cafes – including Portuguese, Chinese and the local Macanese cuisine. With 2018 Macao Year of Gastronomy, the destination will see a programme of activities to celebrate the designation of Macao as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy. Visitors can also relax in Macao’s southern countryside of picturesque hills and beaches or “shop ‘til they drop” at one of the bustling markets or designer malls.
The Macao Light Festival (2-31 Dec 2018, macaotourism.gov.mo) is organised by the Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) with the 2017 event co-ordinated by the Macau Design Center, presenting an innovative programme featuring projection mapping shows, light installations and interactive games, as well as activities including a light art exhibition, outdoor concerts and movies and a light dinner.
Last year’s event put love at its core with the theme of ‘Amor Macao’. An opening ceremony featured local contemporary dance company Stella & Artists with a romantic routine under the theme “Wish-Making Under The Stars.” The work “Boundless Love” was projected onto the historic Ruins of St Paul’s to depict the glamour of Macao as a major hub on the Maritime Silk Road. Three routes then extended towards seven other locations with works including “Love Stems from the Heart” at Senado Square and “Mercy and Love for All” at St. Lazarus’ Church, taking visitors on a dazzling journey in search of love and dreams.
Discover something different
While some light festivals are world famous, other events are less well known — but no less spectacular. The Seoul Lantern Festival (Dec, seoullantern.com/en/) began in 2009 and for 17 days each winter transforms the Cheonggyecheon Stream in the city’s Downtown area into a magical destination lined with hundreds of intricate and colourful lanterns.
In Singapore, the i Light Marina Bay Festival (9 March – 1 April 2018, ilightmarinabay.sg) which takes place at a waterfront development on the southern tip of the country, is unique for its focus on sustainability. Each work is designed with either energy saving lighting or environmentally friendly materials and festival goers are encouraged to adopt sustainable habits in their every day lives.
In Holland, the city of Eindhoven can truly lay claim to the title ‘City of Light’, with the first Dutch match factory founded there in 1870, and the original Phillips light bulb factory in 1891. GLOW (10-17 Nov 2018, gloweindhoven.nl/en) honours this legacy while also placing a spotlight on up and coming artists and innovative design.
If you want to experience another culture while staying closer to home, London is also host to another light festival this January — Nordic DeLights (13 – 28 Jan, acode.org.uk), featuring 13 contemporary light artists from Nordic countries displaying works across six venues in Soho.