Huge crowds, a massive boost to the local economy and a proposal of marriage saw Durham’s Lumiere festival judged a massive success.
The lights festival in Durham attracted an estimated 175,000 visitors over its four nights and saw hotel and restaurants in the city booked out.
A new ticketing system and extended hours saw the event pass off without incident after previous criticism that heavy crowds had spoiled some people’s enjoyment of the spectacle.
Highlights of the event - the third to be held in Durham - included Elephantastic, a 3D elephant marching through a specially-constructed arch on Elvet Bridge, and the return of the Crown of Light son-et-lumiere spectacle at Durham Cathedral. A man visiting the Solar Equation installation at Durham University’s science site proposed to his girlfriend.
Helen Marriage, the festival’s artistic director said: “We are delighted with the success of this third edition of Lumiere. It’s been wonderful to how much everyone has enjoyed it this year. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We made many improvements to the way the festival has been organised this year, to ensure visitors had an unforgettable experience that was comfortable as well as enjoyable.
“Once again, Artichoke would like to say a huge thank you to the visionary Durham County Council, and its wonderfully innovative approach to cultural tourism.”
County council leader Simon Henig said: “Lumiere 2013 has been breathtaking, thought provoking, entertaining and an overwhelming success for tens of thousands of festival-goers and very many businesses.
“I confidently predict a very significant economic boost to the county linked to the opportunities delivered by this world class event. Just as important though is the immense sense of pride we can take in knowing we have worked together to showcase just some of the very best we have to offer in County Durham.
“Huge thanks to Artichoke, the very many council staff and our partners at Durham Constabulary, the cathedral and Durham University for their superb support. Thank you too to the public who have embraced Lumiere and helped us all to shine.”
The festival was made up 27 light sculptures and installations placed at locations around the city, including some inside Durham Cathedral and a number at Durham University sites.
On North Road, crowds applauded at the end of each cycle of the Keyframes mini-drama, which saw LED stickmen taking over the former Durham Miners’ Hall, to the strains of Lee Dorsey’s Working in a Coalmine recorded by young people from the Durham County Wind Band.
And as part of its outreach to the wider community, Lumiere worked with offenders in Durham’s three prisons and a youth remand centre. Over 100 prisoners and their families created artworks, which were displayed together to form a huge illuminated wall in the Galilee Chapel inside Durham Cathedral. The artworks will be returned to be exhibited inside the institutions, following Lumiere.
Artichoke will how stage Lumiere as one of the closing events for Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 from November 28-December 1.
Details of the full programme for Lumiere Derry~Londonderry can be found on www.lumiere-festival.com .