Organisers ‘overwhelmed’ as record 250,000 visitors flock to Bristol Light Festival

The Ophelia installation at St Mary Redcliffe Church (photo: Chris Cooper/ ShotAway/ Ophelia installation at St Mary Redcliffe Church (photo: Chris Cooper/ ShotAway/
The Ophelia installation at St Mary Redcliffe Church (photo: Chris Cooper/ ShotAway/
Crowds flocked to the ten-day event as stunning light installations illuminated some of Bristol’s best-loved landmarks

The Bristol Light Festival drew a record crowd of 250,000 people over ten days, according to the event’s organisers.

Crowds flocked to the event as stunning light installations illuminated some of Bristol’s best-loved landmarks, as well as lesser-known spots.

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Visitors arrived in their thousands every night to experience the 11 playful, immersive, and colourful artworks by world-renowned artists and the best of local talent, all carefully curated to evoke feelings of discovery, play, peace and reflection.

There was something for everyone at this year’s festival, from mermaids and other mythical creatures in the harbour to a Shakespearian heroine laid in St Mary Redcliffe Church and swings that played music.

The historic Temple Church was open to the public for the first time and transformed into a glowing maze of mirrored monoliths and Castle Bridge became an immersive journey over a rainbow and under a magical laser sky.

Surrounded by onlookers, over 45,000 brave people stepped up to the microphone to scream, sing and cheer – lighting up The Corn Exchange while Morag Myerscough’s giant structure in King Street gave the uniting message of “Let us Shine”.

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Presented by Bristol City Centre BID alongside key partners, the event is now an integral part of support for businesses across the quieter winter months and organisers say plans for next year’s event are already underway.

Vicky Lee, Head of Bristol City Centre BID said: “We have been absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of people that visited Bristol Light Festival this year, it has been an incredible ten days and seeing the city buzzing with people of all ages and lots of families enjoying the city centre at night has been just brilliant.

“By creating an event that attracts visitors to the city centre to spend leisure time across what traditionally is a very quiet time of the year, businesses benefit from a much-needed economic boost after Christmas and before spring.

“Across the ten days, we have monitored the economic impact and will be analysing this data to understand this year’s benefit to the local economy.

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“Bristol City Centre BID has committed to delivering Bristol Light Festival as an annual event as part of its current five-year term, so we have already started thinking about next year’s event, including artworks and locations - watch this space!”

The beams at Castle Bridge (photo: Andre Pattenden)The beams at Castle Bridge (photo: Andre Pattenden)
The beams at Castle Bridge (photo: Andre Pattenden)

Katherine Jewkes, Creative Director said: “It is always an honour to curate the best of UK and international talent for Bristol Light Festival, and this year has been no exception. We want the people of Bristol to see their city in a new light, with this year a particular focus on play and interactivity.

“It was a joy to see people of all ages making music together on the swings or mesmerised by the mermaids in the Harbourside. Groups of friends posing for photos by Morag Myerscough’s ‘Let Us Shine’ or brave individuals lighting up the building with their voice at Marcus Lyall’s ‘Scream the House Down’.

“We were delighted to put installations into two of Bristol’s most stunning churches with Studio McGuire’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s heroine ‘Ophelia’ in St Mary Redcliffe and illumaphonium’s ‘Continuum’ in Temple Church creating an otherworldly respite from the busy city. And I just loved watching people dance together over the rainbow bridge on Castle Bridge.

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“These installations were all built for play and interactivity and were brought to life by the way in which visitors responded to them. Bristol is the perfect canvas for art, the people of this city are the best audiences – I can’t wait for next year!”

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