Light Festivals in the North

Alice Hiley

As the colder and darker nights draw in, it can be tempting to settle into the sofa and hibernate away until summer returns. But you’d be missing out on some of the most spectacular – and ubiquitously pleasing – events in the North: light festivals.

You might associate festivals with summer and music, but these illuminated events are a celebration of the magic of the festive period and the beauty of the buildings all around us. Some are more traditional, marking the end of the harvest season, while others showcase cutting-edge light technology; you’ll see everything from handmade, candle-lit lanterns and puppets to large-scale LED and neon sculpture.

Towns become night-time, open air galleries with something to discover around every corner. All sorts of communities get involved, from sprawling cities like Manchester, Newcastle and Leeds to seaside towns like Blackpool and tiny villages like Saltaire. Shop fronts, parks and squares are transformed by stunning projections and brought to life by performers who breathe fire, dance or juggle glowing pins.

All the festivals in our guide have one thing in common; they celebrate the talent of local and regional artists, and they want everyone attending to join in the fun. Whether you’re getting involved by crafting your own wicker lantern or interacting with touch-sensitive installations, get ready to be fully immersed in the experience.

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