Festival to bring light into communities

The organisers of a festival of lights in Northumberland this winter are offering local people the chance to illuminate any object of their choice.

The pit wheel at Woodhorn Colliery, Ashington

The organisers of a festival of lights in Northumberland this winter are offering local people the chance to illuminate any object of their choice.

A series of Northumberland landmarks, including Bamburgh Castle, the Simonside Hills and the seafront at Blyth, are being lit up during a two-month event starting this weekend.

But local people are also being invited to pick their own stars of the show, whether it be a church, a cluster of trees, the village pub, a bridge or even their own home.

Each of the chosen venues will be alive with a collage of colour for one night only in the run-up to Christmas.

A festival spokeswoman said: "A mobile lighting unit called guerilla lighting will be taken to a selection of locations.

"The lighting will be simple, but effective and is designed to add an element of surprise into small neighbourhoods."

Members of the public are currently being invited to suggest a place they would like to see lit up in their community. The spokeswoman said: "It could be a church, a bridge, a rock outcrop, a village focal point or an entrance.

"With a constantly changing palette of colours, patterns and images, each mystery location will take on a magical, ethereal appearance - but for one night only."

The Northumberland Lights festival started last night with Woodhorn Northumberland Museum in Ashington illuminated. On Guy Fawkes' Night, the seafront at Blyth will be alive with light and every weekend in December, Bamburgh Castle in North Northumberland will be lit from inside like a doll's house.

Director of Northumberland Tourism, Giles Ingram, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to promote and celebrate our natural, historical and industrial heritage in such a unique way and underline Northumberland's reputation as a great place to be at any time of year."

Landmarks in Newcastle and Gateshead will be lit up from November 30 to December 2, between December 7 and 9 and on New Year's Eve. Sunderland will be shining from November 1 to December 31 and shops in Durham City will be decorated in silver on December 2 and 3.

To vote for a landmark in Northumberland you would like to see lit up during the festival, visit www.newinterfestival.com/northumberland

Voting closes on November 3 and the winning entries will be lit up between December 4 and December 24.

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Lighting landmarks an 'excellent idea'

Yesterday shoppers thought the idea of picking a place to light up was an excellent idea, suggesting their own landmarks.

Marianne Murray, 42, a housewife from Glovers Green in Alnwick, said: "Edlingham Castle, up across Alnwick Moor, would be a good place to light up, because it can be seen from miles away on the Alnwick to Rothbury road."

Mary Davison, a pensioner from Embleton, said: "I would like to see the grounds around Alnwick Infirmary lit up. There are a lot of lovely trees there, and it would look beautiful."

Louise Baxter, 42, a physiotherapist from Park View, Felton, who was with daughter Molly, six, said: "Dunstanburgh Castle, on the coast north of Craster, would look very dramatic on the cliffs against the sea."

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Mine history comes to life

The coal mining heritage of Northumberland will be brought to life today when a £16m visitor attraction opens to the public.

Woodhorn Museum and Archives centre in Ashington hopes to attract 100,000 visitors a year by offering an interactive journey into Northumberland's past.

Last night, the former colliery was illuminated on the eve of the multi-million pound redevelopment's opening weekend.

The centre features a host of activities including the Coal Town exhibition, which traces the people, places and events of the mining industry from 1812 to the mid-1980s. The opening weekend of events begins today at 10am with fun activities including Halloween face painting, music and stilt walkers.

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