About Lumiere


Each Lumiere invites local and internationally-renowned artists to create works that reimagine familiar buildings and public spaces, changing the way we experience our urban surroundings.

Lumiere is produced by Artichoke, commissioners of some of the most celebrated outdoor art in recent time, including Sanctuary and PROCESSIONS. Find out more about Artichoke.

The origins of Lumiere

The first Lumiere took place in Durham in 2009. 22 light installations were dotted around the city in a diverse artistic programme including neon, projections and fire. Over 75,000 visitors experienced the magic of the first Lumiere for free, which was originally planned as a one-off event.

Durham University Botanic Gardens were transformed with 25 artworks for Power Plant, and at Durham Cathedral, crowds were treated to Crown of Light, the glorious son et lumiére by Ross Ashton, Robert Ziegler and John Del’Nero. The programme also featured a collaboration between prisoners at HMP Durham and artist Ron Haselden which resulted in Nine Men Drawing, a series of illuminated artworks in Crown Court Gardens.

Lumiere 2009 made a big impact and was the start of something that, with the support of Durham County Council, Durham University and other sponsors, has since become a free-to-attend, biennial event and a cultural highlight in the North East calendar.

The lasting impact of Lumiere

For each edition of Lumiere, Learning and Participation activities are integrated into the artistic programme, touching lives and leaving a legacy of skills and newfound creativity. Over the last ten years, our producers and artists have worked with roughly 14,000 local people and there are always plenty of opportunities for local people to play an important part in Lumiere.

In 2023, participants included schoolchildren, young carers, prison residents, veterans, people with disabilities, and people with lived experience of mental health issues. They helped in the making of installations like On Blank Pages and Colour The Castle.

Lumiere also invites anyone over the age of 18 to submit their brightest ideas for light artworks as part of the BRILLLIANT commissioning scheme. Those that are successful are supported in the production of the works which are exhibited as part of the artistic programme, alongside work by internationally-renowned artists. Other opportunities for participation include volunteering to help visitors have the best experience of Lumiere and a number of apprenticeships are available to those wanting to take the first steps to developing a career in events production.

Making the magic happen

Our aim is to make Durham appear to be transformed as if by magic, and visitors will notice little of the immense infrastructure needed to make it happen. Of course, staging a light art event of this complexity is a monumental task involving a huge team of producers, technicians, engineers, artists, volunteers and participants, not to mention a large amount of specialist kit. The Lumiere 2023 team included 40 artists, 316 volunteers and 1,800 community participants.

Artichoke is signed up to Vision: 2025, a network of over 500 outdoor events and businesses taking climate action towards net zero. In 2023, Lumiere engaged industry experts, A Greener Future, to undertake a carbon impact assessment of the event and is committed to working collaboratively with Durham County Council and the local community to deliver a sustainable and environmentally-conscious event.

Lighting up London and Derry~Londonderry

Lumiere has also travelled to other cities in the UK. In 2013, Lumiere Derry~Londonderry provided the finale event for the first UK City of Culture celebrations. Huge audiences enjoyed a dazzling programme including Compagnie Carabosse’s Fire Garden in St Columb’s Park and Twice Upon A Time, which was a giant game of consequences video-mapped onto Ebrington Clocktower by Ocubo.

In January 2016 and 2018, Lumiere London took place in the capital, pedestrianising large parts of the West End including Oxford Street, Regents Street and Piccadilly and transforming Mayfair, King’s Cross, Waterloo and South Bank, and clocking up more than one million visits each time.

“The city itself became the story. Everything needed a second look.”

Susannah Clapp, The Guardian