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04th October 2019 Angela Upex

The best light festivals in the UK and Ireland

From dazzling displays to enchanted forests, light festivals will illuminate the winter months. Here’s our pick of the best in the UK and Ireland.

Lumiere Festival, County Durham

Lumiere returns from Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 November with its 10th anniversary spectacular. Featuring highlights from past editions of the festival, alongside new, unique installations, Lumiere 2019 is set to turn County Durham into a shining city of innovation and imagination. Lumiere organisers have revealed the return of festival favourite Mysticète (the whale). It is the first of several popular returning artworks to be announced. The mesmerising 3D projection of a Baleen whale emerging out of the water, created by design agency Top’là and visual artist Catherine Garret, was a much-loved feature of Lumiere Durham 2015. Mysticète will resurface on the River Wear at a new location north of Pennyferry Bridge.

Durham Lumiere

Enjoy the dazzling displays at Durham Cathedral

For more information visit Lumiere 2019

The Alnwick Garden Grand Lantern Parade, Northumberland

Led by ‘Spark’, The Alnwick Garden Grand Lantern Parade is a magical live music, light and movement spectacular. The procession will make its way from The Alnwick Garden into the centre of Alnwick Town, Northumberland. The Grand Lantern Parade, which is free, takes place on Saturday 23 November at 6pm.

Alnwick Garden Lantern Parade

Take part in the magic at the Alnwick Garden Grand Lantern Parade in Northumberland

Find out more information about the Alnwick Garden Grand Lantern Parade

Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival, London

Canary Wharf’s annual Winter Lights festival will be returning this January, drawing upon state-of-the-art technology to deliver spectacular artworks, installations and experiences for a sixth consecutive year. Featuring artists from all over the globe, the Winter Lights festival continues to be the capital’s only annual light-art exhibition and has firmly cemented itself on the London arts scene.

The festival is set to host a number of new installations never before seen in the UK, including neon artwork ‘Mi-e dor de tine’ which means ‘I miss you’ in Romanian. The piece represents a special link with the Romanian Light ON festival in the city of Cluj and will be installed in Canary Wharf from November as an early preview of the Winter Lights festival. Other artworks returning from previous years include the popular Bit. Fall by Julius Popp and the stunning Light Benches by LBO Lichtbank.

Canary Wharf Winter Lights

The Winter Lights festival continues to be London’s only annual light-art exhibition

Canary Wharf Winter Lights festival 2020 is free to the public and can be seen across the Estate from Thursday 16th to Saturday 25thJanuary 2020. For more information visit

The Festival of Light, Wiltshire

This winter, the UK’s original and biggest lantern festival, The Festival of Light, will illuminate Longleat in Wiltshire once more. On selected dates from November 9 until January 5 2020, visitors can join Longleat on a thrilling odyssey as they present ‘Myths and Legends’.

Thor at Longleat Winter light festival

Visit the spectacular displays at The Festival of Light

This year’s theme draws inspiration from epic stories from around the world; from the gods and magical beings of Ancient Greece, to heroic tales of British folklore. New for 2019, gaze in awe at the breathtaking, choreographed light projection on Longleat House – the iconic frontage of the stately home will spring to life as never before.

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Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry

The multi award-winning event Enchanted Forest which has been named UK’s Best Cultural Event, Best Outdoor Festival, Scotland’s Best Large Event and joining the likes of walking old Aberdeen, secured a spot in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate UK Travelist.

Enchanted Forest, Aberdeen

Experience the award-winning Enchanted Forest

Walk through this magical forest in Pitlochry and immerse in an incredible outdoor sound and light show. Before arriving in Pitlochry, hunt for aliens in the UFO capital of Scotland, Bonnybridge. With over 300 UFO sightings every year, this town gets more sightings than anywhere else on earth!

For more information visit the Enchanted Forest

Gainsborough Illuminate Lantern Parade, Lincolnshire

 A dazzling display of lights will parade through the town on Saturday November 16 launching the commemorative year of the sailing of the Mayflower. Although the historic voyage took place at Plymouth, many leading Separatists, who later became known as the Pilgrims came from this region including Gainsborough.

Gainsborough’s Illuminate parade is the first of six parades in the Pilgrim Roots region and will start at the United Reformed Church, following a route through the town with a spectacular light projection onto Gainsborough Old Hall. Now regarded as one of the best preserved medieval manor houses in Britain, a group of Separatists were thought to have worshiped in secret at Gainsborough Old Hall which is now a much loved visitor attraction within the town.

Mayflower Illuminate Gainsborough

Mayflower Illuminate Gainsborough

New trail boards have also been unveiled at the Old Hall and the United Reformed Church as part of the National Lottery Heritage Funded Pilgrim Roots project, led by Bassetlaw District Council with West Lindsey District Council. The new trail will allow visitors to explore the heritage sites with special connections to the Mayflower Pilgrims’ story across Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire.

This year’s Illuminate event has been made possible with thanks to a £100,000 grant from Arts Council England. The grant will be used to support the parade as the opening event for Gainsborough’s 2020 Mayflower 400 cultural programme.

Further details of the Illuminate Parade will be available at or search for Discover Gainsborough on Facebook or Twitter.

Image credits: ©Alnwick Garden; Durham County Council; Longleat; Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam; West Lindsey District Council

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