The 2019 edition of Lumiere Durham, was held over four nights in mid-November, attracting an audience of 165,000. Originally planned as a one-off event in 2009, Lumiere has since grown into the UK’s leading light festival, which in 2019, attracted its 1 millionth visitor and celebrated its 10th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the 2019 programme included a selection of favourite artworks from previous festivals, which joined several new dazzling commissions as well as a number of community-participatory project artworks.

From its inception in 2009, the audience has grown exponentially year-on-year, as has audience satisfaction and economic impact. In 2019 the festival generated an economic impact of £11.5 million and over 90% of visitors rated the quality of the light installations as good or very good (72% in 2017).

Artichoke takes a considered site-specific approach to curating Lumiere, inviting local, national and international artists to respond to Durham’s unique architecture and landscape, working to extremely high technical specifications to produce as seamless an experience as possible for audiences to enjoy, entirely for free.

Lumiere also has community at its heart and in 2019 over 2,000 individuals participated in the festival as part of a year-long, county-wide learning & participation programme. Artichoke also continued to support and develop local artists through its open commissioning programme, BRILLIANT, which in 2019 invited anyone either living in or from the North East, to submit their original idea to feature in the Lumiere programme.

The 2019 Lumiere programme featured 37 dramatic installations and projections and as always, the programme had a strong international element, with artists from Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and France bringing their work to Durham. Visitor favourites included Geometrical Traces by Spanish artist Javier Riera, whose mesmerising artwork created 3-D patterns across trees, and Fujiko Nakaya’s Fogscape #03238, a ghostly shape-shifting vapour that wound its way around the trees and over the river underneath Durham Cathedral. The long-awaited return of Jaques Rival’s giant snow globe in Durham’s Market Place with its joyful neon affirmation I Love Durham, drew smiles in the rain from visitors young and old alike.

More than 150 local people aged from 4 to 85 years participated in community project and installation Keys of Light, where pianists of all ages performed live music from Shostakovich to ‘The Greatest Showman’ to generate an ever-changing kaleidoscope of colours and patterns across the exterior of Rushford Court with every chord. East Durham College students reimagined the iconic Dunelm House with a new video projection artwork Lift Off, developed from the Apollo 50 project in Peterlee earlier that year.

The Next Page, a striking neon-text artwork, created following poetry workshops by poet Hannah Jane Walker with women at HMP Low Newton, was installed on the back of Clayport Library. This poignant installation remains as a legacy to Durham of Lumiere, joining other permanent Lumiere installations from previous festivals.

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