Durham Lumiere Festival: Spectacular display for Durham City

From the spectacular Durham Cathedral bathed in light, to a public telephone box converted into an aquarium, the Lumiere festival has it all


Fish in a phone box and an elephant on Elvet Bridge are just two of the attractions drawing modern-day pilgrims to Durham this weekend.

They started working their magic as the third Lumiere festival opened last night - or, more correctly, yesterday afternoon.

In a bid to avoid the congestion of previous festivals in 2009 and 2011, an earlier start of 4.30pm was pioneered with access to the city centre granted only to ticket-holders until 7.30pm.

Barriers manned by stewards blocked the entrance to the Market Place during the restricted hours last night.

More barriers and stewards controlled potential bottlenecks, such as the junction of Saddler Street and Elvet Bridge, with pedestrians urged to follow the flow.

On Palace Green, as Ross Ashton’s spectacular Crown of Light made its third appearance, bathing the cathedral in colour, the crowd was urged forward as people pressed in behind.

Progress around the many attractions was slow but the mood was of wonder and excitement.

Thousands of photos of the extraordinary Elephantastic on Elvet Bridge must have been taken every hour, with many asking: how did they do that?

The weather was milder than at previous festivals but gusts of wind meant one of the main attractions, Solar Equation, a giant helium balloon resembling the Sun, was temporarily grounded.

Durham County Council leader Simon Henig said: “I’m really pleased that Lumiere is providing a fitting culmination to our Year of Culture in Durham.”

Durham lost the official title to Derry-Londonderry but pressed on with its programme regardless.

The city had seen a 146% increase in its visitor numbers this year, said Coun Henig, and Lumiere would provide yet another economic boost.

The festival runs until Sunday, with 27 illuminated artworks positioned around the city.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer