All systems glow: 10 of the UK’s best winter light festivals – The Guardian
Light trails and shows are more popular than ever this Covid-ridden winter: inventive and mostly outdoors, they brighten the long, dark nights. For those of us drawn to their sparkle, the good news is they’re not just for Christmas. These cities, gardens and resorts are hosting illuminated trails and festivals of light in January, February and March. Book ahead, and wrap up warm.
Love Light, Norwich
During the biennial Love Light festival in Norwich, the city’s landmarks become artworks. Cupid is projected onto the castle and psychedelic neon swirls across the western front of the cathedral. There’s after-dark bicycle ballet and a sound-and-light sculpture in Chapelfield Gardens, a heart-shaped mirror ball in the Forum and light graffiti scribbles across flinty medieval walls. The streets are alive with parades and performances on the suitably pandemic-defying theme of love and belonging. Watch shadow puppets in the marketplace, fiery marsh ponies on Cathedral Green and a glowing octopus and jellyfish, with a fleet of illuminated boats, as they process through the streets on Saturday evening.
17-19 February, 5.30-10pm, free, lovelightnorwich.co.uk
Spectra Festival of Light, Aberdeen
Here be Monsters at Marischal College. Photograph: Ian Georgeson
The soaring facades and gothic gables of the world’s second-largest granite building, Marischal College in central Aberdeen, are among the epic canvases for this mid-Feb festival. This year has been designated Scotland’s Year of Stories. Spectra draws on the theme to present new commissions around the city centre, as lines and images from Scottish prose and poetry illuminate grey stone walls. Light-formed artworks play across Marischal Square and the surrounding streets. And there are related events in Aberdeen art gallery, which won a 2021 architectural award as Scotland’s Building of the Year and is open until late.
10-13 February, 6.30-9.30pm, free, spectrafestival.co.uk
Nymans, West Sussex
Photograph: Richard Haughton
The National Trust’s light trails have been increasingly popular recently. They offer a relatively safe chance to meet outdoors and enjoy dramatic settings picked out by shimmering pea lights and multicoloured lasers. This year, the grounds and formal gardens of the mock medieval mansion at Nymans are full of interest even in winter. Mossy tree roots, tall lime avenues and conical conifers are the setting for fantastical creatures, lantern-hung walkways and firelit lawns. The family-friendly trail takes about an hour to wander through, leading past themed illuminated spaces with matching music.
11-27 February, 2-6 March, time slots from 6.15pm (earlier some nights). Tickets from £16.50/£12 adult/child. Parking £8 for non-members; hourly buses to and from Crawley, nationaltrust.org.uk
The towers glow and the gardens are studded with fire: Derry’s new festival of lights this February aims to showcase the city’s history. Derry is the only completely walled city left in Ireland and the 17th-century walls are a monumental surface for light artists to work their magic. Digital projections turn familiar buildings and fortifications into huge audiovisual animations that play for a few minutes as visitors walk past. The trail charts five eras in the city’s history, from …….