January – yawn. It’s the month we all love to hate, with calendars bare and close to zilch in our bank account….the future is bleak. But wait, do not despair and come forth unto the light! In a triumphant attempt to cheer us all up, the Mayor of London has finally hopped on the groovy Light Festival train. From the 14th to 17th January, 6.30pm – 10.30pm, the city becomes a glittering playground of 30 artworks by commissioned artists. Think neon inflatables, virtual aquariums in phone boxes and kaleidoscopic projections on buildings. The festival spans over four main locations and is best seen by foot, so we’ve put together a route and some tips on where to explore and where to grab a cheeky drink on the way…
Maps will be distributed only here and Trafalgar Square to festival goers, so it’s a good place begin your journey into the light. An absolute must is “BinaryWaves” by Lab[au], it consists of 40 illuminated panels on Regent’s Canal that uses infrared sensors to capture electromagnetic waves and display them with light, sound and colour. King’s Cross is home to the restaurant-packed Granary Square, the first and only ‘eSports’ bar in London, and of course Harry Potter’s platform 9 and ¾! Read more on where to explore here.
Where to stay: Clink78 is on Kings Cross Road and 15 minute walk to the installations.
Trafalgar Square, Westminster
Walk straight along The Strand and you’ll find yourself in the square of Trafalgar, renowned for its iconic land marks – Big Ben, the Coca-Cola London Eye and Westminster Abbey. However if you want to take the road less travelled, take a detour to Covent Garden where there’s a glitzy world of theatres, comedy bars, theatres and more. Oh, and say hello to these ‘lil “Neon Dogs” by Deepa Mann-Ler en route! Read more tips on Covent Garden here.
Where to stay: Strand Continental
Piccadilly, Regent St & St James’s
This gigantuous light sculpture by Janet Echleman will hang over buildings at Oxford Circus and it’s nothing short of a 3D masterpiece. What makes it ultra-unusual is that it’s interactive – audiences can use their phones to manipulate the light and pattern of the sculpture. So space age! If you’re up for a cocktail and disco boogie after, wander over to Soho for some of the city’s best bars and restaurants. Read more about them here.
Where to stay: YHA London Oxford Street
Mayfair & Grosvenor Square
Walk 10 minutes from Oxford Street station (take Brook St to avoid crowds!) and you’ll find a collection of dazzling creations in and around Grosvenor Square. Cedric Le Borgne’s “Les Voyageurs” is a collection of human sculptures that sit on garden walls and fly over buildings, illuminating the sky like floating ghosts. “Aquarium” by Benedetto Bufalino & Benoit Deseille will have you dreaming of your next tropical escape with their virtual installation inside a traditional telephone box! Mayfair may have a rep for extravagance and luxury, but you can still treat yourself to a decent meal for a decent price. Try Pachamama for fruity cocktails and Peruvian deliciousness or Burger & Lobster, where you can get a whole 180g lobster plus salad & chips for just £20 . Go on, you deserve it 😉
Where to stay: YHA London Central
• Thursday and Friday evening will be the busiest so you may want to avoid these days if you can, or spread out your tour over a few of the evenings
• The weather forecast is zero to -1 degrees this weekend so make sure you are snug as a bug in a rug with thermals and furs!
• Get some sweet-ass Instagram shots with tips from our bloggers and photographers on how to capture the light here
• Partners Bloomberg are holding an event called “The Heart and Soul of the City” where London Lumiere artists will discuss the life of the city and how it can be transformed by art. This will be held at the Bloomerg HQ on Friday 15th 2pm – 4.30pm. Find out more info here
• Impressed? There’s another festival over the river called “Winter Lights” running from 11th-22nd Jan, where 18 light installations will illuminate the Canary Wharf skyline. Read more about it here
We feel brightened up already – all hail London Lumiere!