Glowing Cities around the World

A guide to illumination

By Connie Fluhme

Source: Vivid Syndey.

With days getting shorter in autumn and winter, we can enjoy a number of enchanting light festivals, each one is special in it’s very own way. So when it comes to wandering around a city by night and getting your fantasy triggered by awesome beauty, these destinations should be on your bucket list:

Circle of Light
Moscow, Russia
September 23–27

Source: Circle of Lights, Moscow.

It’s not only a feast for the eyes. It also has an educational touch. The ‘Circle of Light’ Moscow international festival is an annual event at which lighting designers and specialists in audiovisual art from various countries reinvent the architectural scene of Moscow by using video mapping. The buildings that symbolise Russia — among them are: the Bolshoi Theater, the Moscow State University and others — transform into canvases for large colorful video projections.

There is an educational program that takes place during the festival. It includes lectures and workshops with world class lighting designers. On top of that, there’s even a video mapping contest going on.

Interestingly, the international jury of the Art Vision Contest 2017 also includes two Dutch judges: Robbert ten Caten, co-organizer and founder of Glow Festival in Eindhoven, co-curator of Glow Association of International Festivals of Light. The second Dutch judge is Olga Mink, who is a VJ, part of the Tedx Advisory Board, and Artistic Director at Baltan Laboratories studying intersection of art, design and technological culture. She was also a curator of Glow Next in 2013.

Source: Circle of Lights, Moscow

To get into Circle of Light, watch this video with the beautiful Bolshoi Theater as a canvas…breathtaking:

13th Festival of Lights
Berlin, Germany
Oct 6–15

Source: Festival of Lights, Berlin.

In recent years, the Berlin Festival of Lights has developed into a strong and well-known brand with an international reputation. The concept — to tell stories with the world famous landmarks, monuments, buildings and squares, to rediscover architecture through light and to integrate events as well as to present all this to the world by means of international and professional marketing — has been met with great enthusiasm.

If you don’t want to miss out on anything, you might want to book a ‘Lightseeing tour’ (yes, the Germans like word plays).

As unique as Berlin itself is the new illuminated world balloon (WELTballon). In the heart of Berlin the “WELTballon” is one of the biggest helium balloons in the world. It has become a trademark of the capital a long time ago — Berliners as well as tourists have grown very fond of it.

If that’s not for you, then choose between bus, boat, stretched limo, light carriage, charabanc, bicycle taxi…or you just walk. But keep in mind: Berlin is huge.

Source: Festival of Lights, Berlin

Inspired by many requests from all over the world, the FOL also offer their services and their 12 years of experience to other cities, inviting them to become a member of the FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS network.

Signal Festival
Prague, Czech Republic
Oct 12–15

Source: Signal Festival, Prague.

The SIGNAL Festival of Lights is the largest cultural event in the Czech Republic, whose unique integration of art, city space, and modern technology has drawn over 1.5 million attendees to Prague in the four years of its existence. The festival brings visually attractive works together with complex installations of international quality.

With its support of new works of art, the SIGNAL Festival has become a respected platform on an international scale and a sought-after venue for introducing the newest projects of the field.

Also nice: There are two walking tours, one through Prague’s wonderful old town, and one a little bit more off the beaten track.

Source: Signal Festival, Prague

Glow Eindhoven
Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Nov 11–18

Source: GLOW Festival, Eindhoven.

From 11 until 18 November 2017, Eindhoven will be all about Light Festival GLOW. Around 40 light artists will create light installations, sculptures, projections and performances. Together they offer the GLOW visitor a surprisingly new perspective on the city. The light artworks are connected by a walking route.

GLOW NEXT, will offer new projects based on experiments which are shown for the very first time. Eindhoven is a pioneering city and a breeding ground for creative, artistic and technical talents who show their skills at GLOW NEXT.

GLOW can be visited free of charge and attracted more than 740.000 people visitors last year.

Source: GLOW Festival, Eindhoven

Durham, UK
Nov 16–19

Source: Lumiere Festival, Durham

Organised by Artichoke, a charity in England that takes art to public spaces, Lumiere is a biennial event that has been staged in the north-eastern English city since 2009.

Expect to be enchanted by about 30 light-based art installations located along the cobbled streets of the historical city.

Its medieval Durham Cathedral has also served as the backdrop for light shows. This year, the hidden heroes of the public service sector are invited to take part in a spectacular video projection. A thought-provoking piece will be showcased at the festival in November and seen by tens of thousands of people. The projection will put the public sector workers of the North East firmly center stage. An interesting twist.

Source: Lumiere Festival, Durham

Amsterdam Light Festival
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Nov 30 — Jan 21

Amsterdam Light Festival

The sixth edition of Amsterdam Light Festival takes place from 30 November 2017 until 21 January 2018. This year’s festival brings a fair share of surprises. Over 40 artworks and installations of artists, designers and architects from home and abroad will light up the city center of Amsterdam. Among the works will be a light object by Chinese artist and activist Ai WeiWei. Ai Weiwei’s light object can be admired on the water route of Amsterdam Light Festival, which holds “Existential” as its general theme.

With Existential we hope to encourage visitors in a positive way to think about what unites people and what role light plays in this,” explains curator Lennart Booij, who we will welcome for a C-Word Talk and preview on the Festival here at VBAT in November.

As every year, Amsterdam Light Festival takes place on both water and land. And also this year they have put a good spin on it. Water Colors remains the dynamic water route along the famous Amsterdam canals. And for the first time, artworks will be shown at Marineterrein Amsterdam, from 14 December 2017 until 7 January 2018. This outdoor exhibition area is on walking distance from Amsterdam Central Station. People can explore the exhibition on their own; there is no fixed walking route.

Source: Amsterdam Light Festival

The Festival of Lights
Lyon, France
Dec 7–10

Source: Festival of Lights, Lyon

The Festival of Lights extends the traditional festival of the 8th December, when the residents of Lyon celebrate the Virgin Mary, whose statue stands on the Fourvière hill, overlooking the city. They put candle lamps on their window sills and balconies and wander the streets of the city.

A little look-back into history: On the 8 September 1852, as the city was preparing to celebrate the installation of a statue of the Virgin Mary in the Chapel on the Fourvière Hill, the ceremony had to be abandoned as the River Saône was overflowing. The festivities were put back to December 8 of the same year. But the climate did not favour the organisers — a violent storm broke out during the day, and the event had to be abandoned. Then seeing the weather improving as night fell, the population spontaneously lit their homes with candles and Bengal lights and hurried down into the street. Since then the ritual has been repeated every year — the people of Lyon decorate their windows and balconies with thousands of little lights — candles protected by little glass shades whose flames wreathe the city in a warm and gentle light, as winter draws near.

While continuing to respect this age-old tradition, the festival has over the last ten years mutated into an outstanding urban event, born of the wish to create a festival that would unite all of the people of Lyon and continue to celebrate the lighting of the city begun in 1889. Since then every year, for four nights around the 8 December Lyon becomes the center of light show design with artists from around the world, performances and light shows creating unique designs that attract millions of visitors.

Based on this tradition, the Festival of Lights has since become the world’s principal event for creative light displays, showcasing the work of top artists and offering an open-air laboratory for up-and-coming talent.

Source: Festival of Lights, Lyon

Kobe Luminarie
Kobe, Japan
Dec 8–17

Source: Kobe Luminarie

This festival started as a memorial service for the victims of the Kobe earthquake that stroke on January 17, 1995.

It was the worst earthquake to hit the country in the 20th century since the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923. The death toll of the disaster was around 6,434 — of which around 4,600 victims were from Kobe. Roughly 80% of the victims were crushed to death by collapsed houses and fallen furniture.

Thousands of LED bulbs are arranged in colourful installations that are erected in Higashi Yuenchi Park in the city centre. These installations are designed and flown in from Italy — a tradition that originated from the festival’s first edition.

Source: Kobe Luminarie

Helsinki, Finland
Jan 6–10 2018

Source: Lux, Helsinki

With January being the darkest month in Finland, the city embraces Lux. Helsinki has being organising light-based events of different kinds for over 20 years, since 1995. The Valon Voimat (Forces of Light) festival was the one of Europe’s first fire and light festivals, followed by the Valon Vuodenaika (Season of Light) festival. Both events form the basis of Lux Helsinki.

Next to the usual installations, Lux Helsinki is the first to introduce the international Bring Your Own Beamer (BYOB) happening to Finland. BYOB is a one-night exhibition in which participants get to fill up an empty space with art using their projectors (beamers).

Anything goes, as long as it is projected: from video art to VJ sets, slideshows to home videos. This fun concept was created by the Dutch-Brazilian digital artist Rafaël Rozendaal. The first event was held in Berlin in 2010. Since then BYOB happenings have been held on just about every continent, from New York and Cape Town to Moscow and Tokyo.

Source: Lux, Helsinki

London, UK
Jan 18–21, 2018

Source: Lumiere Festival, London

In January 2016, Lumiere London came to the capital for the first time. Pedestrianising large parts of the West End — including Oxford Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly — and transforming Mayfair and King’s Cross, the festival brought more than one million visitors to the city over four nights.

Each Lumiere festival invites international and local artists to create works that light buildings and public spaces, transforming cities across the UK and changing the way we think and feel about public space.

Like Lumiere Durham, the London event is produced by Artichoke, the UK’s leading producer of outdoor art events.

Source: Lumiere Festival, London

i light Marina Bay
Singapore, SG
March 2018

Source: i Light Marina Bay, Singapore

Originally designed as a biennial event, Singapore’s ‘i Light Marina Bay’ became so popular that it was turned into an annual event.

The festival, which fills the Marina Bay promenade with light displays and installations, is Asia’s leading sustainable light art festival, held in the Marina Bay district of Singapore.

Organised by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, the 3-week festival will illuminate Marina Bay’s urban spaces with innovative and sustainable light art installations designed by creative talents from around the world.

Source: i Light Marina Bay, Singapore

Vivid Sydney
Sydney, Australia
May 25 — June 16, 2018

Source: Vivid Sydney

Sydney’s multi award-winning festival of light, music and ideas presents another innovative and awe-inspiring creative program over 23 days and nights in 2018. Get ready to interact with the latest light technology, be mesmerised by intricate light art projections onto the city’s most iconic structures and be inspired by the festival’s creative energy.

Vivid Music is a vibrant contemporary music program that showcases cutting-edge artists and performers. Expect one-off collaborations, light and laser spectacles, live bands, emerging local talent and international acts at venues including Carriageworks, Vivid LIVE at Sydney Opera House, as well as intimate bars, clubs and hotels around the city.

Vivid Ideas offers thought-provoking and stimulating workshops as well as talks and events by leading industry practitioners and luminaries. Whether you’re a passionate fan, a student or aspiring creator, emerging or well-established entrepreneur, you’ll find lots of inspiration during Vivid Ideas.

Source: Vivid Sydney

This should be enough inspiration for you to brighten up the dark days in the coming months. Why not just buy a ticket around the world and let your fantasy go wild by visiting all of these wonderful eye-catchers? Illumination is guaranteed.

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written by Connie Fluhme PR at VBAT

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