From stunning projections to immersive installations, volunteer coordinator Sarah Cotterill picks her highlights
Before we know it, the evenings will be drawing in. As we mourn our summer sandals, we’ll welcome the crunch of leaves underfoot, the flicker of lampposts above pavements…the coats and scarves rescued from the backs of wardrobes. Autumn means many things, but to Leeds it means Light Night is upon us.
For two magical evenings, faces will glow beneath dancing lanterns and luminous figures. On the 4th & 5th of October, the city will be alive with noise and colour. Here’s our pick of the shiniest artworks to catch if you’re out and about.
Queens Hotel, 4-5 Oct, from 7pm
Don’t be alarmed if your arrival into the centre is met by a medieval mirage, spitting and flicking its tail across the roof of the Queen’s Hotel. Forgotten fuses state of the art 3D projection mapping with sky-high pyrotechnics, to bring a legendary fire-breathing dragon to the gates of Leeds; dreamed up by Belgian artists, Create Studio. City Square will never feel the same again.
Starting at Town Hall, 4 Oct, 7.30pm
To launch the festival, ‘The Art of Protest’ parade will wind its way through the streets celebrating the power of women, in a centenary-themed neon procession. Giant local suffragettes, Leonora Cohen and Mary Gawthorpe will tower over the Headrow, marching to the beat of Todmodern collective Drum Machine, and all-female contemporary band Stealing Sheep. The team have been working with Hull-based Light Artist, Debi Keable, to create electroluminescent banners and icons of inspiring women with local community groups. Soak up the carnival atmosphere along the route, starting at the Town Hall from 7.30pm. (Thursday only).
The Rainbow Platform
Leeds Station, 4 Oct, from 6pm
Social media fans will enjoy seeing their thumb work emblazoned on the platform building at the train station, as Rainbow Junction invites you to tweet your Light Night experience using the hashtag #enlightenleeds. The colour and nine letter choice is entirely yours…as long as it’s light hearted!
Trinity Leeds, 4 Oct, from 7pm
Cirque Bijou is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the modern circus, bringing a dizzying spectacle of courage and artistry. Zip-lining in over Trinity Shopping Centre, this world-class tightrope act will attempt a walk of faith beneath an illuminated ceiling, with crowds of gaping jaws watching up in anticipation. Daredevils can enjoy this from all floors, above the Everyman Cinema, performing on the hour.
Sound of Infinity
Bramley's Yard, 4 Oct, from 6pm
Kira Zhigalina’s mirror box will be at Headrow House throughout the festival, where one person at a time can enter and do whatever they like. Sounds creepy, but this clever comment on voyeurism is a modern take on our digital lives, allowing people to see in, whilst you’re hidden from the outside world. Voice-activated, this LED cube is asking to be opened.
St John's Church, 4 Oct, from 6pm
St John’s Church gardens will be transformed by beams of light stretching between trees, in a blend of natural and constructed elements. Polish company Kasjo Studio are hand-weaving thousands of threads with the help of local volunteers, to project their force field, exporting you to an electric future.
Briggate, 4-5 Oct, from 6pm
If you’ve been around the arts festival circuit this summer, you may have caught Venessa Grasse’s MESH at Freedom or The Great Exhibition of the North. Part of a long-term choreographic research project, ten professional dancers invite you to join them in a ritual of movement and harmony, playfully dancing, rolling, and leaping their way down Briggate. If you ever thought performance was for a middle aged - elitist few, this may change your perceptions.
Dr Kronovator’s Fire Laboratory
Queen Square, 4 Oct, from 7.30pm
Emergency Exit Arts, outdoor performance aficionados, are bringing a madcap professor to the Arena zone, inviting 50 members of the public into Queen’s Square to test their strength. Dr Kronovator’s Fire Laboratory promises to be a memorable experience, as steampunk-inspired characters bring blazing experiments to life. Wander through chemical contraptions and join in the fun…just leave your polyester jackets at home!
Chaos - Hotaru Visual Guerrilla
Millenium Square, 4-5 Oct
This contemporary audio-visual piece, inspired by University of Leeds research into quantum chaos, explores the beauty of chaos through light, sound and movement. With a combination of abstract forms, Spanish projection artists Hotaru Visual Guerrilla will transform the architecture of the Leeds Civic Hall into a scene of organised chaos.
I INFINITE: Tom Dale Company
Northern Ballet, 4-5 Oct, from 6pm
Set in a white, digitally animated environment I INFINITE is a solo dance piece inspired by 'the digital world’s quest to recreate life'. Part dance, part video installation, it explores the boundaries between the artificial and the real, the digital and the organic worlds. The audience are allowed to roam the space and stand close to the dancer in order to fully appreciate the performance.
Light Night runs on October 4th & 5th, 6pm - 11pm. All events are free - map here
Main images: Edgars Blumbergs