Light Festival 2019 review

Another excellent array of illuminating installations in Nottingham

Light Festival 2019 review

Another year, another Light Night in Nottingham. It’s an evening of dazzling installations, numerous arts events and spectacular light displays. This year’s theme focussed on space and the anniversary of the Apollo mission in 1969. There was another twist as it was also part of UK Young Artists Festival. Here’s a little taster of what I experienced…

The Moon at The Royal Concert Hall

My first attempt to visit this exhibition was foiled by the unexpected popularity. I first tried to get in at 5pm but the queues were snaking out into the streets and into the town centre. I tried again a few hours later but alas the queues persisted. Unfortunately there was no access arrangements and no disability assistance that could be put in place by the staff to help avoid the queues so I decided to returned the next day, fully expecting something amazing if the queues were an indication...

Once inside the moon was spectacular. It was unbelievable how realistic it was. Even up close, it didn’t look photographic or even like an installation. The artwork was created by inflating material printed with an exact replica of the moon’s surface to a 1:5,000,000,000 scale. It was projected upon from the inside to make its craters and surface seem even more realistic. If you moved to the back of the theatre stalls it looked even more just like our moon in the sky. If you ever dreamed of travelling to the moon, this was pretty much your chance! It is touring the UK at the moment, so you have the chance to visit it at a city near you!

Nottingham Square and Big Wheel

The main hub of Nottingham City Centre, with its huge square had lots going on. The council house was once again illuminated by rainbow colours, and the big wheel returned offering a view over the town. This too was lit up, offering a spectacular light display of colours and even the Union Jack. This year It’s in Nottingham had a huge illuminated sign perfect for selfies and photo opportunities, whilst the square was home to puppet performances, dancing and an array of craft markets and stalls.

Sobar Poetry Open Mic and Performances by DIY Poets

I spent most of the evening here and it was a wonderful event. They had a special menu so I was able to order a delicious burger and chips (even for my Gluten-Free and Lactose-Free dietary requirements) all whilst listening to innovative and inspiring poems from the DIY poets. The theme centred around space and the moon landing, providing some truly magnificent well-thought out poems as well as some wonderful improvised spoken word. Covering topics such as health, disability, love and political standpoints, the DIY poets even distributed their free zine amongst us. It felt so accessible, accepting and welcoming, the café became a little community and the audience were so supportive. It felt a positive fun and relaxed environment and I loved every minute of it. The performers from the DIY poets and the open mic slots were all so talented. I hope to attend more events by them in the future.

St Mary’s Church

We headed here after a brief saunter back through the square and up to the concert hall. There was a luminous light installation filling the church as you entered. The colours, zipping up and down twisting forms and shapes, were always changing and left audiences captivated. There was another wonderful installation by a different artist which used water vapour to project images and lights using projection mapping techniques. You could walk and enter beneath it yet never got wet. It had visitors fascinated and interacting with the images and lights to great effect. Simultaneously, the church had their choir performing, and the entire hall was candlelit making it a beautiful experience. I am not religious but it has a calming experience and there was also artwork for sale alongside the various art installations.

National Justice Museum

After this, we headed opposite to the National Justice Museum. It had its free galleries open to the public and I enjoyed exploring its crime and punishment galleries with the rare opportunity to visit after hours. There something slightly eerie and fascinating about visiting an old court and jail after dark!

Debbie Bryan’s

It was getting pretty late at this point but we managed to just squeeze in a quick visit to Debbie Bryans before it closed. We were pretty tired, but we were able to grab a quick drink before heading home and I had a yummy vegan milkshake. Debbie Bryan’s had been running craft activities all evening where you could drop in and have a go at for a small fee. I was sad that we had arrived too late for this, but I definitely plan to visit another time to take part in these activities!

Header Image Credit: The Picture Whole


Mary Strickson

Mary Strickson Contributor

I love writing, blogging and reviewing on Voice and other online publications, covering a range of topics but I especially love the arts, activism, film and theatre. When I am not writing I work as an events photographer and artist/illustrator, as well as running workshops in schools and the community, mostly with young people. I'm also a huge history nerd, have a History BA, Art History MA and work in heritage. I love comics, superheroes and anything sci-fi.

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