Over 75,000 visitors experienced the magic of the first Lumiere light festival, which was originally planned as a one-off event.

22 light installations were dotted around the city, in a varied artistic programme including neons, projections and fire. Durham University’s Botanic Gardens were transformed with 25 artworks for Power Plant; and at Durham Cathedral, crowds were treated to a glorious son et lumiére inspired by the powerful history of Christianity in the North East. Crown of Light, by Ross Ashton, Robert Ziegler and John Del’Nero was inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels. Inside the Cathedral, United Visual Artists swung eight enormous pendulums in the vaulted ceiling back and forth.

Audiences were also treated to a spectacular fire display from French company La Salamandre, and a collaboration between prisoners at HMP Durham and artist Ron Haselden resulted in Nine Men Drawing, a series of illuminated artworks in Crown Court Gardens.

Lumiere Durham 2009 made a big impact and was the start of something that has since become a biennial event and a cultural highlight in the North East calendar.

Lumiere was part of the 2009 Sky Arts Artichoke Season and formed part of North East England’s world-class programme of festivals and events, developed by Culture 10.

'Dune' by Daan Roosegaarde for 'Lumiere'. Produced by Artichoke in Durham, 2009. Photo copyright Matthew Andrews.

Lumiere Durham 2009 Statistics

  • Number of installations


  • Size of production team

    100 people

  • Population of Durham


  • Artists and performers

    100 people

  • New commissions


  • Number of volunteers


  • Audience


“Durham – this now just seems so right – was made to be lit up … gradually, on come the lights: so many clever lights, in the biggest such show England has known, and it is a triumph… I know that these will have been four very special nights which no visitor will forget. And that Durham, dark Durham, was made, at night, for this light.”

~ Euan Ferguson, The Guardian, 2009 ~