Seeing Leeds In A Whole New Light

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Martha Sanders and Anya Loudon explore the best bits of  Leeds Light Night Festival 2017.

On the 5th and 6th of October Leeds was lit up for the thirteenth annual Light Night Festival. As the sun went down the city lit up and dozens of installations attracted intrigued crowds. From ethereal to extravagant, eerie to entertaining, there was a huge variety of events to satisfy all appetites. The festival was not only a visual treat but a delight for all the senses. The air was laced with smells of tantalising street food and the night was accompanied by atmospheric music from street artist, Lewis Crossley. Exhibitions ranged from the sublime, world-class acrobats in the Aerial circus to the slightly silly Light Benches on the Headrow, with much more in between.

Here are some of our highlights:

Illuminated Light Carnival Parade

The festival was kick-started by the Leeds West Indian Carnival. With feathers, lights and a multitude of colours they brought a taste of the Caribbean to the streets of Leeds in spectacular technicolour fashion. Although the northern winter is starting to set in here in Leeds, it was impossible to feel cold while watching the beautiful displays of explosive colour. In a festival designed to bring the city together this event in particular celebrated its diversity and multeity. The carnival acted as the lifeblood of the festival, weaving its way through the veins of the city breathing colour and life into everything it touched.

Image: Freedom Quarter

Museum of the Moon

One of the most mesmerising displays at the festival was undoubtedly the Museum of Moon. It is no exaggeration to say that artist Luke Jerram took me to the moon and back. Internally lit, seven metres in diameter, and designed using NASA images, the enormous spherical sculpture hung mysteriously over the river Aire for two nights. Despite the painstaking realism of the design, or perhaps because of it, there was something otherworldly about the way the giant orb cast its ethereal light across the humble banks of Leeds dock. I was transported from Leeds to a futuristic dreamlike world. This creative yet crazy design put the luna in lunacy.

Image: Carl Milner

Out of the Aire 

The light projection that transformed the Civic Hall celebrated the history of Leeds and how it has become a city of great innovation. Beginning with projections of the River Aire, it moved through images of Leeds during the industrial era, circus acts, early cinema, historical figures and football teams. These projections were alongside music from contemporary Leeds artists and voice performers. This perfectly encapsulated the people who have shaped, and continue to shape, the city of Leeds.

Image: Leeds City Council


An avant-garde installation of white mannequins with cube shaped heads was placed on Leeds town hall forecourt. A slow moving projection of flowers onto the mannequins gave the installation an ethereal feeling. This was accompanied by an experimental mix of soft electronic music coupled with the sound of a woman whispering, giving the piece an experimental and futuristic atmosphere. The Dutch artist wanted to convey how ideas that form in our heads replicate, evolve and spread, which creates cultural connection. However, I felt that the cuboid heads symbolised how society has become immersed in technology. This suggests the irony of interconnectedness is that people of the internet age frequently feel more disconnected and alienated than before.

Image: Leeds Inspired

Martha Sanders and Anya Loudon

(Image courtesy of Leeds List)