Leeds Light Night

One of the cultural highlights of the year in West Yorkshire is Leeds Light Night when, on two evenings in October, the city is transformed by spectacular light projections, interactive artworks and live music performances. This was the first time that I had an opportunity to attend the event, which has now become one of the UK’s largest annual arts and lights festivals.

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Light installations at the festival

This free event is divided into ten zones spread across the city and after arriving by train we purchased a festival guide so that we could more easily discover where events were taking place and the ones we particularly wanted to see. This year’s event celebrated the theme of progress and innovation and kicked off with an opening parade through the city streets. This, after dark parade, was entitled ‘The Art of Protest’ and featured a sea of neon banners, LED signs and pounding drums.

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Inflatable creatures at Leeds Light Night

There were so many events taking place that I have just documented some of our highlights. One of the first installations we came across was Fantastic Planet. It looked as if huge aliens had landed on the streets of Leeds but thankfully on closer inspection they turned out to be inflatable creatures designed to look like they were tentatively exploring the city.

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The illuminated Leeds Town Hall

Moving on to the Town Hall we spotted some gigantic outdoor versions of living room lamps which changed colour every few minutes. This installation was called Bouquet D’Abat Jour and designed by French artists.

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Illuminated gigantic lampshades at Leeds Light Night

The interior of the large Kirkgate market was also a venue, hosting Light Night Big Top which celebrated 250 years of the modern circus. Leeds Children’s Circus had erected a Big Top and children were enthralled with the stilt walkers, jugglers and fairground side shows.

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Big Top in Kirkgate Market, Leeds

Nearby, inside the beautiful Victorian Corn Exchange building, a series of free concerts were taking place by the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra. When we arrived they were rehearsing so we paused to listen for awhile. The building opened in 1863 as a centre for the trade of corn but has since been refurbished as a shopping centre for small, independent retailers.

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Inside the Corn Exchange, Leeds

Over at the Trinity Leeds shopping mall, the aerial artists of Cirque Bijou were to be seen hanging from the rooftop. Craning our necks, we viewed a thrilling performance as the acrobats gradually made their way across a high wire suspended above our heads. I tried to take photos but unfortunately from ground level they did not come out well enough for me to include them here.  Moving along to Leeds Civic Hall, its facade featured an installation by Spanish artists entitled Chaos. This had taken inspiration from the University of Leeds research into quantum chaos and was projected onto the walls using light, sound and movement.

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Dragon installation projected onto the Queen’s Hotel, Leeds

We saved the best to last as my absolute favourite was the fearsome and fiery dragon projected onto the front of the Queen’s Hotel near the railway station. This was a 3 minute spectacle not to be missed. Leeds used to have six wooden gates to protect the city and it is believed by some that a dragon once guarded the West Bar and when it was closed the dragon was chained in a dungeon.

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The fiery dragon at Leeds Light NIght

Despite the intermittent drizzle we had a splendid time wandering through the streets viewing the city after dark and seeing Leeds under a different light. To round off our evening we popped into a warm and cosy pub for a tasty supper of fish, chips and mushy peas, making it a perfect end to our evening out!

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26 thoughts on “Leeds Light Night

  1. I’m new here to this blog, but I’m glad to have come across it. I think it’s cool to see cultural events in different countries (especially since I’ve never been outside of the States). And I especially liked the mention of the dragon here in this post.

    – Victoria

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always enjoy your posts. The lights of Leeds look spectacular, and your words bring much life to the images. Living close to one of the best zoos in America, The Columbus Zoo, offers many people an opportunity to view Wildlights, an annual holiday festival filled with thousands of lights.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love that Town Hall without the lights, so it must have been fabulous! Great to see places like Leeds get some travel-blog love (speaking as a Huddersfield boy myself!) – you don’t have to travel the world to enjoy the world, is what I reckon. Nice post, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello Marion.

    Wonderful post and gorgeous photos. I enjoyed every photo which You presented. I love Light Shows, because they bring light into the dark autumn. We have had them in Helsinki also, but just now I have not read about them this year, maybe I next month.

    Have a good day!

    Liked by 1 person

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