Lumiere London’s Pop-Up Light Show

For four magical evenings in January, London was treated to a most wonderful light show.  The Lumiere Festival of Lights featured a series of weird and wonderful artistic light installations that magically popped up throughout some of the Capital’s most famous areas; Piccadilly, Regent Street, St James, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, Mayfair and King’s Cross.

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I took a stroll around the West End to see what all the fuss was about!  In scenes reminiscent of London’s Olympics in 2012; huge happy crowds were gathered together in an atmosphere of excitement – gazing in awe at the magical light creations. Wandering around on a crisp winter’s evening I was amazed at how many families were doing the evening ‘treasure hunt’, clutching maps and looking skywards for the next piece of the jigsaw.

At Oxford Circus a giant ‘comet’ was suspended high between the buildings – its gossamer threads gently changing through a kaleidoscope of colours.  It resembled a ‘cat’s cradle’ or futuristic ‘spiderweb’.   Lumiere London was produced by ‘Artichoke’, specialists in bold, outdoor art events.  Having previously created lightshows in Durham and Derry, Londonderry; they worked with artists and engineers to transform London’s iconic architecture with 3D projections and interactive installations.

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Floating high above the enormous crowds in Regent Street were the entrancing figures of ‘Les Lumineoles’.  Originally commissioned for the Lyon Festival of lights, these ethereal beings wafted on high – like giant fantail fish – morphing from one colour into another and drifting gently, as magical music played from huge speakers below.

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Suddenly there was the sound of trumpeting and trampling!  The crowds in Regent Street were being treated to a magnificent projected Elephant kicking up clouds of dust!  

From behind the building his derriere was also heavily featured….

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Strolling around Carnaby Street and past the Liberty shop windows, there were shining Cinderella-style light dresses and even more crowds of happy people.   

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Elsewhere, there were light figures sat on top of buildings and even flying or floating between the winter trees…

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Our adventure ended in Leicester Square, where the trees were lit beautifully and the central square had become a fairy garden filled with giant dazzling flowers.


It was genuinely a pleasure to see so many people smiling!  (And a pleasure to have the busy London streets closed to traffic for a change!…)

Written by Sarah Rees

Environmental Scientist, presenter and keen wildlife photographer; Sarah is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. With a background in television production, she launched her online Forestwatch videos to celebrate the diversity of woodland wildlife and ancient trees.

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