Returning for its 10th consecutive year, the Illuminating York Festival is an annual celebration of light taking place across the city from the 28 – 31 October. The festival was one of the first of its kind in the UK, where in order to showcase the beauty of York, artists will be lighting up the city while the nights grow darker, using projections, light shows and even a canopy of disco balls.
This year, the festival has been designed by two artistic curators for the very first time. The artists, Hazel Colquhoun and Andrew Knight, have planned a lamp-lit Promenade through the city, following five sets of artists’ installations. The tour will culminate at the Museum Gardens, metamorphosed by light and sound into a celebration of the natural world. One of the five installations will be a sky of moving mirror balls hung above the Shambles, blurring the medieval aesthetic with a modern and kitsch design.
Lauren Marshall, the Hall Manager for Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, another destination within the festival, commented: “I am particularly looking forward to seeing the Shambles get its disco on with Marcus Beck and Simon Macro’s ‘Join the Revolution’. It’s not often you get to see a Medieval street covered in glitter balls!”
In addition to the five main attractions along the Festival Promenade, there is a range of Festival Fringe events, including late night openings of the York Art Gallery and Hotel Chocolat, a Bloody Tour of York and a Guy Fawkes Trail among others. Merchant Adventurers’ Hall, the medieval guildhall, will have a candle lit tour through the building, highlighting how it was originally illuminated centuries ago.
Marshall also describes the importance of the festival for the city: “It is completely different to any other event in York and it brings different organisations, groups and individuals together to create something utterly unique.”
For this reason the festival is popular among local residents, tourists and students alike. Stephanie Fan, an international student at the University of York commented: “At home I am familiar with the Hong Kong city lights, so I am excited to see a historic city such as York lit up in a whole new way!”