Lumiere 2013 : Durham

IMG_1252Last night I had a fantastical journey around the city of Durham.  It isn’t every day that you find an elephant trumpeting and snorting in a city centre, but this was definitely one of the highlights of Lumiere 2013.  Where do people find the imagination and “know-how” to produce light installations like this?  I have no idea, but I thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle.

From the other side of the bridge, he shakes his tusks at me!

From the other side of the bridge, he shakes his tusks at me!

I thought I was going to be in for a disappointment, because the Park and Ride was already full when I arrived in Durham at 16.30.  No right-minded person attempts to drive beyond the outskirts when an event such as this is taking place.   But not being in your right mind sometimes pays off, and with a bit of frustrating driving and a hike at the end, a suitable slot was found for the car.

Was it worth it?  Of course!  The sight of the Lindisfarne Gospels marching across the face of the Cathedral to rousing music can compensate for a lot!  It was the only feature to be repeated from Lumiere 2011, and in a year when the Gospels had been on a summertime visit to the city, they were wholely appropriate.

My favourite part?  I could have loitered in the Cathedral cloisters endlessly (in fact, I did, and lost my husband for a little while).  Did you ever see anything more magical?

The frocks shimmered in the dark and then began to change colour

The frocks shimmered in the dark and then began to change colour

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I was spellbound!  The setting was perfect, the colours enchanting!  The night was bitter but for a while I didn’t notice.  Overall I think that Lumiere 2011 was more spectacular, but as I ended that occasion with a black eye, I was more than happy to celebrate light with Durham in 2013.

The event runs biennially and the organisers seem to have learnt since 2011, when the crush around the Cathedral was sometimes frightening.  This year there is restricted access to the city centre between 16.30 and 19.30, when you need a ticket to get beyond the barriers.  There is plenty to see elsewhere and maps are provided online, or handed out at the event itself.  (having printed one off, I forgot to take it, but the programme guides were readily available)  I suspect they will run out over the four day festival.

Some brisk walking took place around the city, passing excited groups and families with smiling faces.  There are lots of nice places to eat in Durham and after a meal in Bistro Italiano, it was time to enter the city centre for the finale.

I'll leave you dancing!

I’ll leave you dancing! (courtesy of Michael- his shot is better than mine)

Do visit if you can.  I’ve included links to the programme and the interactive site is full of suggestions for a good time.  It won’t be repeated till 2015!


  1. Hi there Jo, I’m feeling chipper and chirpy and I just wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for a Blog of the Year 2013 Award. My post will be published this evening at around 6.00pm Australian Time. Congratulations to you for your truly Wonderful Blog.

    1. Many thanks, Michelle. 🙂 I guess I’ll have to do something with it now. I’ve got the original from Alyson languishing in my Inbox, which is a terrible confession to make. I’ll pop over and say thank you properly. I seem to remember I was going to mention you on the WordPress Family Award and I don’t think I did it yet. Sorry! 🙂

      1. Happy Award writing Jo! It’s fun but it does take a bit more effort I know. I just love it when I get the writing done and I can enjoy everyone’s messaging. Anyway…Congratulations twice.

  2. What a breathtaking show, Jo! The elephant is really amazing, and those dresses are beyond gorgeous. Lucky you to be there to witness this spectacle. I’m sure you hardly noticed the cold. 🙂

    1. It really was brilliant, Ad. I’ve been wanting to spend some time on the Lumiere website to see all the photos and interactive stuff but I haven’t made it yet. The show ends tonight and I’ve made a couple of new online friends through the event so I’m off now to explore. 🙂

    1. I focussed on where I was walking as well as the camera, Gem. I learn very slowly and painfully (I’ve fallen over 2 different bollards and down a flight of steps in the last few weeks- obviously not an osteoporosis sufferer or I’d be in bits! There’s always a bright side?) 🙂

      1. They did look amazing…my sort of thing.Did you see last year,there was something on in Liverpool,there were these giant marionettes depicting a girl and her father …they were absolutely enormous ,it took dozens of people to work them.I only found them by chance,look on’ you tube ‘if you haven’t seen them before..

    1. It’s basically a free event, Rich, and we didn’t get tickets but they were a nominal price- about £4.50 I think, but they sold out quickly. In 2011 crowds and safety issues were a problem so they initiated ticketing to give oaps and families chance to see it more easily. You didn’t really need them unless you had a restriction on your time. We were there from 5 or so till after 10 (with an hour in the restaurant) and still didn’t see it all because it’s quite spread out. Staying overnight in Durham would be a good option. Mark in calendar for 2015 🙂

  3. sembra di entrare nel mondo fantastico dei sogni, dove tutto può essere possibile, anche indossare uno di quei bellissimi abiti che cambia colore e volare in alto a salutare le stelle, veramente incantevole, grazie Giovanna per avermelo fatto conoscere!

    1. The link to Lumiere 2011 tells that story, Viv. Senility has set in because I’ve been properly in the wars with falling over lately (more stories to follow) Looking on the bright side, I can’t have osteoporosis or I’d be in pieces! 🙂
      Don’t know when I’ll get round to 6WS today, Viv, but I’ll get there. Still responding to Lumiere stuff and recovering from last night’s zumba-thon 🙂 Did you see Torville and Dean on “Strictly”?

  4. It looks fantastic Jo. When will the next one be…..month I mean? Are they always at a set time in November or does it vary a bit? Love all the photos and I for one would love to see more posts and photos of this. Oh and I do hope you found your hubby in the end!

    1. Mid November 2015, Michelle- it’s usually about the same time. If you follow a couple of my links, one takes you to the event in 2011 and the other to the Lumiere website. You can play around with stuff and see other photos on there too. 🙂

    1. Glad you like them, Deepali 🙂 I took lots because it was hard to tell how well they’d come out in the dim lighting. I didn’t get any decent ones of the lazer show on the sides of the Cathedral but I think there will be a YouTube video.

  5. Takes my breath away, Jo! That is amazing to come up with a different theme each year. I can’t imagine to stand in front of the Lumiere… Thank you so much, Jo!

    1. It was truly fabulous, Smidge. My posts have been about my Barcelona trip all week but I couldn’t miss this. I’m not great at glamour but how can you not love this? 🙂

  6. WOW! Seems that it was amazing show… Fascinated me, dear Johanna, Thank you, have a nice weekend, love, nia (sorry for my previous comment, something happened wrong)

    1. No worries, Nia. I love to have you visit me 🙂
      Sorry I haven’t found much time to return your visit lately. I have a charity zumba-thon this evening but hope to have a free weekend, so see you then 🙂

  7. This is what I love about the blogosphere – finding out about events and places that you have not heard of. I am putting Durham in my ‘to visit list’ for November 2015.

    1. You should, Jude! If I’m still about we might even have that coffee (or something stronger). I meant to include a link to the Cathedral lazer show, which is spectacular. Will look for something on YouTube later. Got a Zumbathon event tonight! Help! 🙂

    1. I’d been looking forward to it ever since I got back from Barcelona, Jill. I didn’t have the equipment to photograph the lazer stuff on the Cathedral so I’ll have to put up a sequel maybe with a link to YouTube. 🙂

    1. Absolutely fantastic, Cathy! And even better, I didn’t fall over! (I fell down some stairs in Barcelona and tripped over a bollard in Girona- too busy with the camera 🙂 Black and blue!)

    1. Once my birthday has come and gone, it all seems to go past in a mad whirl, Suze. I LOVE Lumiere, and really didn’t think we were going to make it last night.
      Zumbathon-ing tonight- crazy me! 🙂

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