Amsterdam Light Festival, the Netherlands
27 November-18 January 2015
The only light art festival you can enjoy from the comfort of a boat, Amsterdam’s offering stretches from November right through until January. If you thought Holland’s biggest city was only notable for its red lights, this eclectic festival will change your mind. As well as canal-cruising round alfresco installations, they’re also putting light art up in shops, cafes and museums so you can enjoy much of it out of the cold.
Signal, Prague, Czech Republic
Signal is the new upstart. Last year it lit up Prague’s old town for the first time – and attracted 250,000 people. Next month, the artists involved will be projecting patterns on to the neo-gothic Kostel svaté Ludmily, and the Michna and Kinsky Palaces. Another attraction is The Pool, a light art installation by Colorado artist Jen Lewin, which you can walk on top of.
Licht festival, Ghent, Belgium
29 January-1 February 2015
One of the most dazzling set pieces at the last Licht festival in the Flanders city of Ghent was a cathedral of 55,000 LEDs, which looked like something that wouldn’t be out of place in Las Vegas. That was 2012, and anticipation is already building for the next festival, one of the biggest events in Ghent’s cultural calendar, drawing “oohers” and “aahers” from across Europe.
Glow, Eindhoven, Netherlands
Philips started manufacturing lamps and bulbs in Eindhoven in 1892, and went on to become one of the biggest of all the Dutch corporations. So it’s apt that Eindhoven’s municipal electricity bill is metaphorically scrunched up and thrown over the mayor’s shoulder every November as all manner of bizarre illuminated sculptures and installations cram its centre for the duration of Glow.
Berlin Festival of Lights, Germany
See Berlin’s landmarks in a different hue next month when they’re illuminated in crazy colours at the city’s Festival of Lights – which has been going for a decade. The Siegessäule will be illuminated by night, likewise the Reichstag, Tempelhof airport and the Berliner Dom. Also look out for the jokes – the quixotic TV Tower in Alexanderplatz – affectionately known as the Telespargel (tele-sparagus) will be lit green for a time.
Fête des Lumières, Lyon, France
Son et lumière is a French obsession – and the modern idea of a “festival of light art” really took hold here. When the French aren’t busy lighting up their beloved chateaux, they’re turning their attention to Lyon where what started as a Catholic homage has evolved into a million-bulbed celebration of Lyonnais life which culminates in a huge light show centred on the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière which dominates this pleasant city’s skyline.
Illuminating York, UK
29 October-1 November
Britain turned up late to the light art festivals party (we’re more into fireworks and bonfires) but Yorkshire is trying to change that. Huddersfield has a new light festival (November 28-30), but York’s is bigger and more famous. Solid landmarks like Clifford’s Tower, York Minster and even part of the city walls will all look resplendent with the beams from a few hundred big torches with coloured filters trained on them next month.
Lumina, Cascais, Portugal
Cascais, a lovely port/beach town west of Lisbon, hosts Lumina later this month, which involves trails of light around the harbour and old town, three days of sound and light displays and lucent installations in various squares and parks.
Lights in Alingsås, Sweden
26 September-2 November
Alingsås, near Gothenburg in the west of Sweden, loves its lights alright. The city has even set up an Instagram account to document the installations you can see. Novelties here include horse and cart rides round the light sites and the chance to design your own scintillant sculpture at a workshop and have it exhibited.
Lux, Helsinki, Finland
4-8 January 2015
It’s not the aurora borealis, nevertheless these northern lights have received glowing notices from a great many people who have made the trip up to Helsinki to see them. Finland’s capital is brilliant anyway, but during Lux all manner of luminous artworks in the city centre and the Cable Factory cultural centre add to the enlightened Nordic vibe. You’ll need a coat to enjoy this alfresco culture though – evening are freezing here in January.
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