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Image: Entre les Rangs by Rami Bebawi & Kanva

The nights may be drawing darker but fear not, as November marks the return of Durham’s annual Lumiere festival of light. Building on the success of previous years, the cathedral city will be illuminated for four magical evenings from Thursday 16th through to Sunday 19th November.

Now in its fifth year, the festival welcomes artists from across the world, transforming the city’s architecture, landscapes and public spaces into art forms. A collaborative effort, the festival is commissioned by Durham County Council and produced by arts charity Artichoke, the brains behind London’s dazzling London’s Burning festival back in 2016. Inspired by a location’s heritage, many of Lumiere’s installations take their cues from the city’s rich history, scenery and residents.

Highlights of the programme include the centrepiece at Durham Cathedral, in which light will be projected onto the entire exterior of the building. This year, Spanish artist Pablo Valbuena takes the reins, with a site-specific piece inspired by the art of bell ringing. The castle is arguably more interesting; curated by Hannah Fox, faces of local people will be projected across the façade, representing and providing a platform for residents of all walks of life.

The river Wear has been a source of inspiration too, with a series of installations in, on and around the water. White Line, an installation by Adam Frenlin, highlights the natural beauty of Durham and its surrounding areas with a simple white line projecting the natural curve of the river, playing with the illusion of moonlight. Netherlands-based artist Ralf Westerhof brings a little bit of Amsterdam to the North East, with large scale hanging installation Drawn In Light. Emulating a Dutch canal home, the piece will be suspended over the river adjacent to the Elvet Bridge, rotating and twisting to create a ‘city within a city’.

Experimenting with different media for a more interactive session, Finish artist Kari Kola marries sound and vision with a unique soundscape to transform the riverside and South Bailey into a ‘dreamlike wonderland’.

Those looking for an evening out with the kids, or just wanting to unleash their inner child, can enjoy a series of interactive installations. As the bell of the cathedral tolls, the cloisters below will be transformed into a field of illuminated flowers. Canadian architect Rami encourages visitors to wander the cathedral grounds, following the highlighted paths. Budding artists may try their hand at Light Graffiti by Swedish production company Colour by Light, who invite audiences to use torches and smartphones to decorate their surroundings. Another unmissable segment is Sagacity: The Periodic Table of Emotions, which explores individuality and personality. Curated by Aidan Moseby, whose work has recently featured at Blue Dot festival, the installation takes the emotional ‘temperature’ of the community, collecting the expressions of feeling on social media. Sound and light come together at Durham University’s Botanic Garden, thanks to For The Birds, a collective of over 20 artists who reimagine the garden in an immersive and meditative journey through the wilderness.

There’s plenty more to enjoy, check out the website for a full line-up. Tickets to the event are free, though there will be a crowd control system in place through the central area and peninsula during peak times.

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