Lumiere lights up London and transforms the city with a spectacular show

Lumiere London saw the city transformed with light sculptures brightening up some of the city’s best loved landmarks.

The festival organised by the arts charity Artichoke and sponsored by the great and good saw an estimated one million people visit to see the show.  Crowds packed out spots in Kings Cross, Grosvenor Square, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly, Leicester Square and Westminster to get a look at some of the works of art which were showing for one long weekend only.

Rushing round London on a chilly Sunday evening is how I chose to visit the show and there was no way I was going to see everything although I did manage to give it a good go. The works ranged from the small and compact to the big and bold with every one different from the other and each a treat to stumble across.

It’s the third time Artichoke have exhibited Lumiere having previously transformed Durham in the North of England and Derry in Northern Ireland as part of it’s year as the City of Culture.  Committed to featuring work outside the traditional art venues, the London gig is of course the biggest one yet.

Kings Cross

The transformed area of Kings Cross and it’s newly pedestrianised areas proved to be an inspired choice for the revealing of some of Lumiere’s biggest exhibitions.  Also being the location of the Central Saint Martins the famous art college, the area around the redeveloped Granary Square was transformed with the star attraction being a projected circus show on the main building.

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Circus of Light by Ocubo on Granary Square
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Circus of Light
Crowds gather to watch the show projected onto the building in Granary Square
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Litre of Light inside Central Saint Martins
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Heart shaped plastic bottles in Central Saint Martins
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Spectra-3 Lux by
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Binary Waves on the Regents Canal by LAB(au)



Grosvenor Square

With the eagle of the American Embassy overlooking the square the place found itself transformed with installations including light benches and an odd looking collage of neon scrawled figures.  The standout here for me though was in a telephone box just outside the square, transformed for the event into an aquarium, and yes it had real fish.  Needless to say there was a maddening throng around the box for the majority of the time.

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Crowds surrounding the telephone box aquarium
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Fish in the telephone box
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Spinning Night in Living Colour by Elaine Buckholtz in Grosvenor Square
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Brothers and Sisters by Ron Haselden in Grosvenor Square
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Lightbenches in Grosvenor Square
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Birdboxes on Duke Street. Sanctuary by Sarah Blood

Oxford Circus

Pedestrianised for the weekend, what a difference it makes having that street closed down.  Spread out above it, a light show made out of what appeared to be lots of little strings.  People were laying in the street gazing above to see the colours change, a big difference indeed.

1.8 London by Janet Echelman and Studio Echelman
1.8 London changing in the night

Regent Street

Walking down Regent Street a number of exhibitions were installed onto the walls.  A few little stick men dancing down the walls of Liberty, a projected elephant roaring on a wall further down.  The main event here though being the giant kites shaped like some form of flying fish.  Controlled by operators in white gowns they were dancing above the busy street, a pretty impressive sight.

Keyframes on Regent Street by Groupe LAPS and Thomas Veyssiere
Les Lumineoles by Porte par le vent
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Elephantastic by Top’la Design and Catherine Garret

Leicester Square

The square turned into a garden of light with installations all over the place.  I think my favourite here were the giant snowdrops.

Light tree in the Garden of Light in Leicester Square


Trafalgar Square

The National Gallery turned into Centre Point for the weekend with the iconic signage from the famous building re-created.  Down in the square one of the fountains was filled with plastic bottles and illuminated.

The Centre Point lights take over the National Gallery
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Plastic Islands by Luzinterruptus. Plastic bottles in the Trafalgar Square fountain


Finishing up in Westminster, the abbey received a unique make-over with another spectacular light show projected onto it.  Pretty impressive stuff really, the abbey frontage is filled with intricate detail yet these have been picked out in colour with remarkable accuracy.

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Westminster Abbey statues lit up
The abbey lights changed colour throughout the evening

Lumiere London was created by Artichoke and was visited on Sunday 17 January 2016.  For more pictures and an excellent write up of the event check out Jenikya’s Blog


  1. Nice pics! I went on the Thursday night and was glad I did. Going back on Saturday to kings cross was just insane so we left early as it was too crowded to enjoy. But I’m glad I saw it. Missed out on the Abbey though. You can see my pics on my blog

    1. Thanks have just seen yours some really good ones there 🙂 I missed out on the carnaby street ones, really like the flying guy. So difficult to get round them all probably should have done a couple of nights

  2. Great that you’ve covered this event. I ended up going on three nights — first night King’s Cross then two nights doing various parts of the West End. Shame you’ve missed out on the suspended figures around St. James’s Square — they’re maybe my favourites after Westminster Abbey.

    The organisers need to do some serious rethinking about the crowds as Saturday was too unpleasantly crowded to enjoy Trafalagar Square, Leicester Square and Piccadilly — where the elephant was turned off due to crowding. Why on earth didn’t they switch the lights on before 6.30pm on the weekend dates? There were loads of parents with kids there who could have been and gone earlier in the evening.

    I missed the aquarium as it was boarded up and sealed off, no doubt due to crowds, on Saturday night.

    Overall a great idea but something of a victim of its own success.

    Westminster Abbery was staggering, though — and you got to go inside for a fiver on Friday night.

    1. Hi Mike, I heard about the overcrowding and have to say it was like that at a number of the Kings Cross and Grosvenor square exhibits when I was there. Does make a lot more sense to extend the time and switch the lights on earlier

  3. Thanks for the mention! 🙂
    I gathered it would be busy, so that’s why I went on the Thursday. Starting it earlier would have been better as 6:30 was a little too late IMO. It helped I was between jobs so I could do it and did it all in a day, but it was a lot of walking. I’d have liked it to have been on for a week or have some of the exhibits be on for longer.

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