As we head into autumn and the nights begin to draw in, there’s something exciting to look forward to in Leeds.
Every October Light Night takes over the city, animating buildings and public spaces with light installations and giving local people and visitors free access to art that they might not normally see. It’s the biggest annual arts and light festival in the UK and it’s back this coming Thursday and Friday, and I can’t wait to get out there and explore.
I’ve attended and enjoyed Light Night many times over the last few years, but after 18 months of lockdowns and home-working (and having recently joined the team at LEEDS 2023 as Senior Producer) I’m particularly looking forward to this year’s event. It’s a chance for us all to reconnect with our incredible city and see it in new and surprising ways.
This year’s theme is Back To Nature, and you can expect to see everything from neon dogs at Leeds City Museum and polar bears at Granary Wharf, to foxes in Park Square and even an eight metre long inflatable robot snail in Trinity. But if you’re on the lookout for the hidden gems of this year’s Light Night, then I would suggest venturing out of the city centre and into the suburbs.
There’s a brand new zone this year called Outside the Centre, with events happening in Kirkstall, Holbeck, Chapeltown and Woodhouse; two of them have been supported by LEEDS 2023 as we’re passionate about people being able to access amazing culture outside of the city centre. In the streets of Holbeck and Chapeltown you’ll discover a brilliant new project called Mystery Bird, which was created in lockdown. It’s the work of a collective of artists including the incredibly talented sound artist and ‘nature beatboxer’ Jason Singh, who I have been lucky enough to work with on a number of previous projects, and features an illuminated bird cage, a magical sound scape and a projection that escapes onto the surrounding buildings.
Murmurations by arts collective Shared Space and Light is another event that I’m really excited about, and again has been created with support from LEEDS 2023. It’s a video-projection that illuminates the windows of the beautiful ruins of Kirkstall Abbey, inspired by the mass movement of starlings as they twist, turn, swoop and swirl across the sky. I can’t wait to see it!
For me, events like Light Night are an amazing opportunity to rediscover our city through fresh eyes. Familiar streets and squares that I pass through every day suddenly become magical places to explore, almost like a treasure hunt. When I walk through Victoria Gate I am often reminded of discovering giant glowing human figures there in 2018, and walking down Briggate conjures up images of huge desk lamps and colourful parades from previous years. I’m really excited to wrap up warm and head out to explore Light Night this week; I know that whatever I experience this year will change how I see the city forever.
Which events are you most looking forward to at this year’s Light Night? Let us know @leeds_2023