Back in the darkest, coldest days of January 2016, we wrapped up warm and headed down to Granary Square.
Why? Well, King’s Cross was a key focus of an inaugural urban light spectacular conceived to rival festivals such as Berlin’s Festival of Lights, Fête de Lumières in Lyon and Vivid Sydney.
The free bonanza saw twenty pioneering international artists commissioned to transform our buildings and streets with vast light installations. And it proved a pretty good reason to leave the house on an icy evening.
We huddled close together with thousands of other curious Londoners in the heart of N1C to gawp at the Circus of Light, a vast animation across the breadth of the repurposed Granary Building (see below pic) specially commissioned from Portuguese studio Ocubo. Just as impressive was the nearby Diver by Ron Haselden, a 17-metre light sculpture at the (now sadly closed) King’s Cross Pond Club.
The event – whose first UK outing was in Durham – was the brainchild of arts charity Artichoke, an ambitious creative company which works with artists to invade public spaces with large scale events (they’re the ones that brought people out in droves onto the streets of London to see the Sultan’s Elephant a decade or so ago).Happily Lumiere was a huge hit: over a million people flooded to glimpse it over the four nights, the nocturnal festival thrilling all – it seemed – in its intention to reveal the city quite literally in a new light.
This time around, you know it’s a big deal when Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is as excited as he is right now. “Lumiere London 2018 will be even bigger, brighter and bolder,” he says, “with some show-stopping installations re-imagining London’s iconic architecture and streets.
“I’m also delighted that this year we’re organising community projects in outer boroughs to ensure that as many Londoners as possible can get involved with this world-class event. Festivals like this showcase our city at its international, creative and open best.”
Incredibly now the capital’s largest art event, it’s still free to attend. There’ll be more than 40 artworks made using the medium of light, ensconcing the city’s most iconic buildings, landscape and architecture. The festival features artists from across the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Canada amongst others.
The good news is that this second edition of Lumiere also extends from north to south across the Thames through six key areas: King’s Cross, Fitzrovia, the West End, Westminster & Victoria, and the Southbank & Waterloo.
And, as the mayor says, Londoners will also have the opportunity to take part in the creation of a number of festival artworks – so no-one should feel excluded.
London Lumiere runs 18th – 21st Jan. More detail locations can be found here: visitlondon.com/lumiere