Top Tips for Lumiere 2017

The long-awaited Lumiere has finally landed in Durham for 4 days only! From 16th November – 19th November, our little city will be lit up with some of the best light installations from around the world. If you want to make the most of this bi-annual spectacle, keep reading for some of my top tips after visiting the festival on the opening night!


The installations are scattered all around Durham, from the Botanic Garden to the Gala Theatre. This, combined with the hundreds of people that swarm into the city for the light festival means you need to set aside a good couple of hours to wander around and see everything. You’re not going to get the most out of it if you rush your way around, as some of the light displays last a good 5/10 minutes – particularly the projections on the Cathedral (check out tip 3 for my TOP TIP for getting the most of the Cathedral’s installations). Alternatively, why not spread it out over the four days, and do a section a day!


The majority of the installations are dotted outside the city centre, around Durham. Now the nights are closing in earlier (about 4:30 pm!) it means everyone in the city has plenty of time to see the installations in the perfect conditions, but it also means it is SERIOUSLY COLD! Make sure you put on plenty of layers so you don’t freeze on your way from one installation to another!


The Cathedral holds more than one installation this year, similar to 2015, One inside the Cathedral cloisters, and one that involves a projection on the outside perfectly in time with bell-ringers inside. As you can imagine, this is a very popular installation and the queue to get in is BIG. My advice? Don’t wait till you’ve watched the projection to join the queue! You’ll be able to watch the projection once or twice whilst you’re waiting. Which leads us to TIP 4…


The queue into the Cathedral did look daunting – I won’t lie! But not only did the organisers ensure that it moved surprisingly fast, it was definitely worth it! Inside the cloisters are THOUSANDS of illuminated flowers like nothing you’ve ever seen. So queue – it’s worth it!


If you need to warm up, or if you just get a bit peckish, there are food stalls dotted along the route, as well as your favourite café’s, bars and restaurants open to fill you with nice warm food and drink after braving the cold of Lumiere. So definitely take advantage of the pit-stops!


Whether you’re planning on looking round Lumiere or just trying to get around town, it’s worth planning your route in advance. If you need to get anywhere fast, avoid the centre of town and the river banks as they are the slowest moving sections. Instead, take routes outside the peninsula. If you’re looking round Lumiere, some pathways are one way or exit only, but the route I took worked really well! I started off at the University Science Site, walked down and popped into the installation at St Oswald’s Church – don’t miss this one, before cutting across Kingsgate Bridge and tackling the Cathedral. Once through the Cathedral, I headed out across Prebends Bridge and down the opposite river bank. Then I headed up to the centre of town and along Elvet Bridge, before cutting back past the Gala Theatre, finishing at North Road!

TIP 7 – ENJOY!!!

This light festival only comes around once every 2 years, so make the most of it! Not many universities get a light festival on their doorstep! #DUMakeItHappen

Check out Freya’s blog if you want to hear about the opening night of Lumiere 2017!

Katy McRae

Katy McRae

My name's Katy and I'm a third year Psychology student at Hatfield College, originally from Wigan.I've blogged for Durham since my first year here, alongside producing numerous productions for Durham Student Theatre and fundraising for Dig Deep - a charity working to provide clean water and sanitation to rural communities in Kenya. Last summer I climbed Kilimanjaro with the charity, and this year I'll be climbing Mount Kenya with some daring Durham students, and YOU could be one of them.

Check out for more information, or check out the facebook group 'Durham University Climb Mount Kenya to Make A Change'.
Katy McRae

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