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Watch Durham sparkle during the UK’s largest light festival

Durham cathedral lit up during Durham Lumiere festival
Durham cathedral lit up during Durham Lumiere festival Copyright Hannah Brown
Copyright Hannah Brown
By Hannah Brown
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After a long 2 years, Durham Lumiere, the UK’s biggest light festival was back and as beautiful as ever.


It's been a long two years since the last Durham Lumiere.

The biennial festival, which first started in 2009, has become a seasonal highlight for locals and tourists alike.

Inspired by the world famous Lyon Lumière, the festival hosts a combination of new, interactive, touring and permanent artworks.

This year saw global artists create 35 light installations, set across the historic city of Durham. And for the first time in the festival’s history, six of them were placed outside of the city, in the wider county of Durham.

Highlights of the festival

College Green hosted the ‘City of Light, City of Stories’ installation. Made by the local community, this beautiful collection of glowing lanterns, made to look like tiny buildings, was brought to life with a soundscape of recordings of local people reciting poetry and stories.

‘Halo’, a piece by British art duo Illumaphonium, was on Walkergate. This interactive installation is a touring piece which lights up and plays musical notes with every touch. Its clever technology, pre-programmed with scales, ensured even the most novice musician could play in the right key.

Hannah Brown
12th Century Finchale PrioryHannah Brown

Finchale Priory, five miles outside the city centre, was a new location for 2021. Commissioned especially for this site, ‘Solitude’ by Finnish artist Kari Kola, illuminated the ruins of the 12th century priory. A haunting soundscape blended with coloured light and mist made this a stunning, must-see fixture of this year’s festival.

More about Durham

Durham is a small historic city in the North East of England, well known for its cathedral and university.

Durham, founded in 1833, is England’s third oldest University after Oxford & Cambridge. Notable alumni include the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Olympic triple jump gold medallist Jonathan Edwards and Euronews Travel’s Sarah Palmer.

Durham’s cathedral and castle (now part of the University) are both UNESCO World Heritage sites. The cathedral is one the most important within the Church of England and houses relics from St Cuthbert, Oswald and St Bede.

Hannah Brown
Durham CathedraleHannah Brown

In the summer, Durham is a lovely spot for a walk. The river Wear twists through the city centre, surrounding the cathedral on three sides. Walk along the riverbank and you’ll be able to spot Durham University’s famous rowers and take in some spectacular cathedral views.

You can then head into town to shop along Durham’s narrow, twisted streets. And if you fancy a quick pit stop, Flat White Kitchen is a local favourite for coffee and cake. But beware, you may have to queue.

Lumiere will return to Durham again in 2023. 

Watch the video above to see the city lit up for Lumiere 2021.

Video editor • Hannah Brown

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