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Over one million visitors estimated at London’s largest-ever light festival

London’s first Lumiere light festival closed last night, Sunday 17th January, at 10.30pm, having transformed the city’s streets and buildings with 30 spectacular artworks. First estimates put the numbers of visitors at over 1 million attending the festival over four evenings.

Developed by creative producers Artichoke and supported by the Mayor of London, Lumiere London turned King’s Cross and London’s West End, including Leicester Square, Piccadilly, Regent Street, St James’s and Carnaby into a magical pedestrian playground and encouraged Londoners and tourists alike to explore the heart of the capital and view it in a new light.

The festival is thought to have brought a significant year-on-year uplift in food and beverage sales to businesses in London’s West End and King’s Cross, with anecdotal reports of double digit growth from restaurants, cafes and bars. 

With founding support from Atom Bank, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Heart of London Business Alliance, London & Partners and King’s Cross, plus additional support from a host of partners and sponsors, including Westminster City Council, Lumiere London presented installations by 30 international artists, at some of the city’s most iconic locations.

Audiences from across the world were enthralled by artworks including a glowing tropical garden filled with giant plants in Leicester Square Gardens and a technicolour animation featuring the faces of some of the UK’s best-loved TV and film stars, projected onto BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly. At Oxford Circus, which was closed to traffic during the festival, people lay on their backs gazing up at 1.8 London, Janet Echelman’s beautifully illuminated aerial sculpturestrung between buildings at Oxford Circus.

Along Regent Street, pedestrianised for the event, crowds gathered to see Elephantastic!, a 3D, larger-than-life projected elephant stomping through the Air Street arch, while in St James’s visitors gazed at the ethereal Les Voyageurs – sculpted human forms flying high above the buildings. At Westminster Abbey, audiences stood mesmerized by The Light of the Spirit, a digital painting by French artist Patrice Warrener, who had bathed the Abbey’s West Gate in an electric riot of colour.

In Carnaby, on Broadwick Street, visitors gathered around Julian Opie’s animated LED monolith – Shaida Walking. The piece has been commissioned as a permanent installation and will be illuminated during the day as well as at night.

Aquarium, Benedetto Bufalino & Benoit Deseille’s iconic red telephone box filled with exotic fish at Grosvenor Square, was a firm festival favourite, drawing audiences to the leafy garden square in Mayfair. The square was also a temporary home to Elaine Buckholtz’s abstract digital painting, which uses light and music to re-imagine Van Gogh’s painting All Night Café.

Hundreds of Londoners of all ages played their part in the festival: from donating a recycled plastic bottle to the glowing Plastic Islands installation by Luzinterruptus in the Trafalgar Square fountains, to appearing on film in the spectacular Circus of Light projected onto the Granary Building at King’s Cross. 500 children also took part in workshops at schools in the area to help make Joining the Dots and Litre of Light, both also at King’s Cross.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: ‘I am thrilled by the success of Lumiere London, which has brought a wonderful burst of imagination, colour and creativity to our city’s streets in the middle of cold, dark January. It could not have happened without the input and support of the many businesses and agencies who helped to make it happen. We have been astounded by the crowds, which exceeded all our expectations and brought a boost to the West End and King’s Cross and are delighted by the response, not just from Londoners, but visitors from around the world.’

Helen Marriage, Director of Artichoke said: ‘It’s been an unprecedented four nights for London and the turnout has been extraordinary. Thank you to all our partners who helped make this event possible. Over a million people came to experience something truly magical and unusual: this great world city turned into a temporary pedestrian playground. While the success of the festival did mean that contingency measures had to be put into place occasionally to help keep the crowds moving, the atmosphere has always been amazing. This festival has been about more than seeing the art. It’s about people sharing public space and re-discovering the city’.

Karen Baines, Heart of London Business Alliance representing over 500 businesses and 100 property owners in Leicester Square, Piccadilly and St James's said: ‘The atmosphere in Leicester Square, Piccadilly and St James’s has been absolutely electric with footfall increasing by 18% year on year on Thursday and Friday from 6pm to 11pm, as visitors flocked from far and wide to see our globally renowned cultural landmarks transformed. Our vibrant evening economy saw a significant boost with West End restaurants, cafes and bars reporting double digit growth in sales as visitors made the most of what was on offer to make it a night out and an evening to remember’.

Anna Strongman, Argent (King's Cross) said: ‘Lumiere London brought tens of thousands of people to enjoy the public spaces and architecture at King's Cross, with amazing new lightworks bringing the night alive. It demonstrated how much people value London’s cultural events.’

Founding Partner Bloomberg Philanthropies and Artichoke hosted the sold-out Lumiere London Symposium, “The Heart and Soul of the City”, on Friday 15th January. During the afternoon, inspiring speakers, including Lumiere London artists, cultural pioneers and leading policy makers, shared their visions for the public realm, and how artists and communities can transform it.

Over 200 volunteers from across the capital were recruited to support the festival through Team London, the Mayor’s volunteering programme for London, and whose local expertise and knowledge of the artworks helped make the festival a success.

Notes to Editors

About Lumiere

Lumiere was created by Artichoke in Durham in 2009, and has been recommissioned by Durham County Council every two years since then. In 2013, Artichoke also produced Lumiere in Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture, commissioned by Culture Company 2013. In November 2015, the festival returned to Durham for the fourth time, attracting an estimated 200,000 visitors to the city. lumiere-festival.com

About Artichoke

Producers of extraordinary live events, Artichoke is one of the country’s leading creative companies and is a registered charity, funded by Arts Council England.

Artichoke is working with Team London, the Mayor’s volunteering programme for London, to recruit over 200 volunteers from across the capital to help make the festival a success. From sharing knowledge of the city and recommending places to eat and drink, to helping audiences discover more about the artworks, this week is the last chance to sign up here: http://volunteerteam.london.gov.uk!

At Artichoke we use art to undermine the mundane and disrupt the everyday, and create a new kind of world that we’d all like to live in.

Our previous projects include Royal de Luxe’s The Sultan’s Elephant, which brought an estimated one million people onto the streets of London in 2006; La Machine’s 50- foot high mechanical spider for Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations in 2008; Antony Gormley’s One & Other 100-day long invasion of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London in 2009; and Deborah Warner’s commission for the London 2012 Festival, Peace Camp, a nationwide celebration of landscape and poetry, which took place across eight separate sites around the UK; and most recently, Temple by David Best in Derry~Londonderry, attended by more than 60,000 people. Artichoke creates and produces Lumiere, the UK’s largest light festival, which has been staged in the medieval English city of Durham every two years since 2009; and in Derry~Londonderry in Northern Ireland as part of the celebrations for City of Culture 2013. It returned to Durham in November 2015 attracting an estimated 200,000 visitors. www.artichoke.uk.com

Mayor of London

The Mayor supports a range of events, projects and initiatives aimed at showcasing London as a cultural capital, bringing new life to high streets across the city and attracting tourists and investment. These range from investing in the Fourth Plinth programme to the London Design Festival, London Film Festival and London Fashion Week; investing in London's town centres and high streets through the London Regeneration Fund and the High Street Fund; supporting a wide range of events across the capital, including the ambitious The Streets and Circulate festivals, which took place in the outer boroughs; and developing a vision for aimed at promoting London's smaller and more local cultural in every borough across the capital. www.london.gov.uk/culture.

LUMIERE LONDON FOUNDING PARTNERS Atom Atom is a start-up bank, not yet launched, but was granted its licence by the Bank of England earlier this year. Founded over a year ago and based in Durham, Atom has a growing team of 160 people drawn from across the country, working with partners to bring pioneering technology to Europe for the first time. Atom is building the UK’s first bank designed specifically for digital, offering easy and convenient banking, along with unique and engaging ways to manage money.

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: public health, environment, education, government innovation and the arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $462 million, and it has a history of supporting creative and innovative public art. In 2014 alone, Bloomberg Philanthropies supported artist Tobias Rehberger’s Dazzle Ship in London as part of 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, and the Liverpool Biennial; We the People, Dahn Vo’s multi-site exhibition in New York City, organised by Public Art Fund; and Doug and Mike Starn’s Big Bambú installation in Jerusalem. In 2015 it launched the Public Art Challenge, encouraging temporary public works of art in cities across the U.S. For more information, please visit www.bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat: Bloombergdotorg and Twitter:@BloombergDotOrg.

Heart of London Business Alliance

Heart of London Business Alliance operates two West End Business Improvement Districts, representing 500 businesses in the Piccadilly & St James’s and Leicester Square & Piccadilly Circus areas.  Heart of London Business Alliance was the first Business Improvement District (BID) in central London and the first UK BID to receive the support of its businesses in renewing its third term.  Heart of London Business Alliance is the first to establish Property Owner Business Improvement Districts.

Our role at Heart of London Business Alliance is to serve as a robust voice on behalf of the businesses and property owners we represent, placing the issues affecting business onto the wider agenda and working in partnership with others to act as a positive catalyst for change. We promote the district to a global audience, ensuring that the area is renowned as a hub for business, education, culture and leisure and remains an integral part of the Capital for people to visit, live, trade and work in.

Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Piccadilly and St James’s welcomes over 130 million visitors annually and is home to an eclectic mix of renowned art and theatre institutions, heritage sites and cultural landmarks, as well as a thriving shopping and hospitality scene.

King’s Cross

King’s Cross is a critically acclaimed 67 acre, 8 million sq ft development in Central London. The developer, the King’s Cross Central Limited Partnership, is creating a piece of the city, which includes 20 new and refurbished office buildings, nearly 2,000 new homes, as well as new shops and restaurants. Aside from the sheer scale, what makes King’s Cross different is the determination to create an interesting place with a varied mix of uses. The area benefits from a lively and diverse arts and events programme that makes use of the world-class public spaces that are being delivered. www.kingscross.co.uk

London & Partners

London & Partners is the official promotional company for London and owns and manages VisitLondon.com, the digital home for Lumiere London. We promote London and attract businesses, events, congresses, students and visitors to the capital. Our aims are to build London’s international reputation and to attract investment and visitor spend, which create jobs and growth. London & Partners is a not-for-profit public private partnership, funded by the Mayor of London and our network of commercial partners. www.londonandpartners.com

 

MAJOR SUPPORTERS  

The Crown Estate 

Grange Hotels

Grosvenor Great Britain & Ireland

Land Rover

Regent Street Association  

Shaftesbury

  

EVENT SUPPORTERS  

British Land

The David and Claudia Harding Foundation  

Regent’s Place

Transport for London

Unusual Services

Veolia

Westminster City Council

 

SUPPORTERS  

Aggreko

Almacantar

Central Saint Martins

Coutts

D&D London  

Embassy of Spain in the United Kingdom

The European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom

Eurostar - International Rail Service Provider

Godfrey Syrett

The Government of Flanders

Great Portland Estates

Green Tomato

Hammerson

Leathersellers’ Company Charitable Fund  

Levy Real Estate

The Royal Parks

St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London

Wellcome Trust

  

WITH THANKS TO

Athenaeum Hotel

BAFTA

Beaumont Hotel

Daniel Peltz

Emergency Exit Arts

Fortnum & Mason

HMP Wandsworth

House of Illustration

Lady Bountiful

Lights of Soho

Mercedes Zóbel

Palm Recycling

Pizza Express

Sainsbury’s

St James’s Church Piccadilly

The Ritz

Virgin Money Haymarket Lounge

 

 

 

Contact

Follow the conversation using hashtag #LumiereLDN. http://www.visitlondon.com/lumiere/

For further information, interviews and images contact:

Anna Vinegrad

T: +44 (0)20 7650 7611 / +44 07813 808487

E: anna.vinegrad@artichoke.uk.com