January isn’t the brightest time of year, but London is about to get a very colourful antidote to the seasonal gloom. From Thursday January 14 to Sunday January 17, new festival Lumiere London will pepper the capital with dazzling light installations by artists from all over the world. It’s the work of festival organisers Artichoke, who brought an 11 metre-high puppet elephant to the city’s streets with 2006’s The Sultan’s Elephant. So in terms of delivering large-scale public spectacle, the event is in very safe hands.
Lumiere started in Durham in 2009 and still runs there, but this is the first time the concept has come to London. Concentrated around the West End, it’ll be hitting some of our most iconic locations: Leicester Square, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly, Regent Street and Grosvenor Square are all on the list (check out the Lumiere London 2016 map for a full rundown). At Strand Palace Hotel we’re on the eastern edge of the festival map, which makes a good starting point – head down The Strand towards Trafalgar Square and you’ll pass Deepa Mann-Kler’s playful Neon Dogs in the window of Coutts Bank, then see Luzinterruptus’s Plastic Islands in the square’s fountains. After that, head north to see TILT’s plant-inspired Garden of Light in Leicester Square.
From nearby Piccadilly Circus you can head west down Piccadilly, catching the swooping, LED-lit creatures of Porte Par Le Vent’s Les Lumineoles, or turn north up Regent Street, which will be home to Elephantastic, Catherine Garret and Top’là Design’s huge digital elephant. And at the top of Regent Street you’ll find what is arguably the festival’s highlight: Janet Echelman’s 1.8 London, a vast net sculpture that will be suspended over Oxford Circus and bathed in coloured lights. You’ll be able to influence the lights projected onto the net using a special app.
As you’ll have gathered by now, Lumiere London isn’t just a few installations hidden in obscure corners of the city. It’ll transform places that Londoners and London visitors know and love – and since this isn’t an indoor gallery with fixed opening hours, you can visit at any time. Why not pair discovering the installations with a night at the theatre, a meal at a West End restaurant, or a tour of the area’s famous pubs, bars and nightclubs?
With a superb location on the edge of Covent Garden and Westminster, we’re passionate about exploring London on foot – there’s no better way of finding out how varied and surprising the city really is. Lumiere London gives our guests another great reason to get out there and do it. So wrap up warm, pack a camera and enjoy! If this feast of bright, colourful public art doesn’t beat the winter blues, nothing will…