Portsmouth to be transformed into a glittering wonderland during stunning new light festival
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The long-awaited We Shine Portsmouth will be making its triumphant debut on Portsea Island following a 12-month delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Staged by cultural organisation Portsmouth Creates, it will see buildings and landmarks across the city being lit up during a stunning three-night art spectacle.
The ambitious festival will open during Portsmouth’s official Christmas light switch-on event in Commercial Road, on Thursday, November 18 and will continue until Saturday, November 20.
Councillor Ben Dowling, Portsmouth’s culture boss, was excited by the event and said: ‘This is a real opportunity for Portsmouth to shine and demonstrate our creative industry’s might.
‘It’s a real opportunity to bring more people into the city. Portsmouth is such a creative and cultural place and we don’t shout enough about it outside the city, so this will be a really important chance to do just that.’
Portsmouth Creates, which is backed by the Arts Council England, Victorious Festival, Portsmouth City Council and the University of Portsmouth, was inspired by the Lumiere Festival, which has taken place in Durham, London and Hull.
Among the stunning attractions set to be on display is an impressive installation at St Mary’s Church, in Fratton, by nationally acclaimed light artists Heinrich and Palmer, whose studio is based in Portsmouth.
Entitled ‘Ships of the Gods’, visitors will be wowed by the project, which was inspired by the Norse myth of Skidbladnir, a magical shape-shifting vessel which was large enough to carry all the gods and their equipment yet could also be folded up small enough to fit inside a pocket.
The stunning life-size display is brought to life using 3D laser scanning technology, a voile screen, film, sound, and lighting effects.
More than 40,000 visitors marvelled at the impressive display during the four-night Hull Lumiere.
It is hoped the event will drive up the city's economy by encouraging investment from outside businesses as well as visitors to Portsmouth. In 2016 the Lumiere Festival led to a £9.6m boost for Durham.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, was hopeful the latest spectacle would further the island’s growing reputation as a cultural destination.
‘We have got a whole range of cultural offerings happening across the city that are really strong,’ said the Lib Dem boss. ‘This is exactly one of the reasons why people want to live in cities, so it's great to see more of this happening.’
Speaking of the festival, he added: ‘You can do incredible projections that are absolutely stunning now. Some of these displays are tremendous. It will be very exciting to see.
‘I hope this will make a huge difference here and we build on it year after year.’
Elsewhere, the city’s Victoria Park will be transformed after-dark with a series of illuminated art pieces.
While back in the city centre, Portsmouth artists Foursandeights and Pompey Banana Club will be collaborating with members of the community on a brand-new supersized project that will culminate in dazzling large-scale projections.
To add to this there will be huge painted murals, large-scale light installations, dance performances, a lantern parade from Fratton Big Local, and much more to see as visitors stroll across the city.
University of Portsmouth's dean of creative and cultural industries and professor of design Trevor Keeble said: ‘This offers a wonderful opportunity for local communities to engage with the vibrant arts and culture that make our city such an amazing place to live, work and visit.’
Illuminations will take place between 5pm and 9pm during the festival, which is free to attend.