Light show spectacular Lumiere returns to the historic city from November 14-17 for its 10th anniversary with 37 installations, which include favourites from over the years as well as new commissions.
Ahead of opening night tomorrow, we were given a sneak peek of the artworks which are set to bring record crowds to the attraction, topping 2017’s number of 240,000 visitors in four days.
Among the striking installations is Keys of Light at Rushford Court, one in a number of interactive pieces, in which pianists of all ages perform their favourite songs which trigger projections on the side of the building.
The first person to try it out was musical theatre legend, and Black Cat fan, Sir Tim Rice. He said: “I enjoyed the experience enormously. You have to bash the piano a little harder than a normal one, but it’s great, what a nice place to play.”
Other large scale attractions on the route are I Love Durham in Market Place which sees the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry statue immersed in a giant multicoloured snow globe; Fogscape on the riverside which creates a hauntingly beautiful setting; Mysticète, near the Radisson Hotel, which sees a whale majestically breach into the River Wear and Stones at Durham Cathedral in which a limited number of visitors can move stones to create atmospheric projections on the front of the landmark building.
Helen Marriage, director of festival organisers Artichoke and artistic director of Lumiere, has been involved in the event since its inception and says she’s delighted with how the region has embraced the bi-annual show.
“I remember coming up here ahead of the first show in 2009, looking at the city and thinking how beautiful it was, how evident the history is and how welcoming the people are,” she said. “I knew we could do something wonderful, but I thought it would be a one off. Now this is our sixth festival and 10th anniversary and it’s grown to be something that people embrace. This weekend it’s the biggest event taking place in the UK so all eyes will be on the city.”
She added: "When we first came I don’t think people were used to art works being so in their faces, but now everyone knows what to expect, and they’ve become like art experts themselves. It’s wonderful how they engage so personally with the artworks. And for artists this is a canvas like no other and is such a great platform for artists from all over the world.”
Terry Collins, CEO of Durham County Council, said Lumiere is an undoubtable highlight of the calendar.
“It’s absolutely massive. At the last event in 2017 we had 240,000 visitors over four days and probably more this year. It generated £8million for the economy and not only benefits Durham the city, but also the county and the region,” he explained. “It’s very much our jewel in the crown and other places in the country would give their right arm to have we have.”
*Lumiere is free, but ticketed for the central area. All tickets have gone, but 26 of the 37 artworks are located outside the ticketed area.
*If you want to eat and drink when you’re in Durham see our food and drink guide here.