Portsmouth gears up to host UK’s largest lights festival Lumiere

Durham Lumiere Light Festival
Durham Lumiere Light Festival
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THE country’s largest lights festival showcasing stunning work from the UK’s finest artists is set to be staged in Portsmouth, The News can reveal.

Organisers of Victorious Festival are working up an ambitious plan to host Lumiere, a cultural celebration which sees still and moving art projected on to historic and iconic buildings.

It’s another way of giving the city’s culture scene a boost and getting more people in from outside of Portsmouth to spend money here and visit local businesses.

James Ralls

The major art spectacle has proven to be a massive success across the country; with London’s version this year pulling in tens of thousands of spectators and County Durham’s in 2011 attracting 150,000 spectators, helping to generate £4.3m for the economy. Both were produced by London-based firm Artichoke.

Cultural bosses want Portsmouth to reap similar benefits by using visitor attractions including Southsea Castle, the Hot Walls and Portsmouth Guildhall as the backdrop for creative art.

Visitors would be able to take in the art projections at the same time as admiring buildings via a ‘walkway’ through the city.

Should permission be granted to use the suggested buildings and a visitor route be agreed, the festival will take place in either October or November next year.

Victorious co-organiser James Ralls, who is leading the proposal, said it would be a massive boost to the city.

He said: ‘We’ve been to the Lumiere in London, really enjoyed it and decided this is something we want to replicate in Portsmouth.

‘It’s another way of giving the city’s culture scene a boost and getting more people in from outside of Portsmouth to spend money here and visit local businesses.

‘We want to see the region’s hotels and shops kept full.

‘It would highlight everything that is good about the area and the more people we can attract to the city, the better.

‘There’s a great atmosphere at this kind of event, it has a real family feel to it.’

Local and national artists would be paid to have their work displayed and the occasion would be free to visitors.

And Mr Ralls said if the upcoming Portsmouth Oktoberfest, in Guildhall Square, proves to be a huge success, the Bavarian-inspired beer spectacle could be brought back next year and happen over the same weekend as Lumiere – as a package of cultural events.

In 2013, the light show was taken to Derry in Northern Ireland where almost 180,000 people visited 17 separate art installations around the city.

Portsmouth Tory culture boss, Councillor Linda Symes, said: ‘It’s another chance to bring more people into the city, we are keen on bringing our visitor numbers up. It would be great to grow our city and have more diverse events.

‘We are following a tradition, in that we want to make the people of this city proud to live here and put on the things that people want, ensuring they always have something to do and see.

‘We have to remain diverse, so we become a well-rounded destination.’


A PROMINENT street artist has backed the plan for Portsmouth to stage its own version of the famous Lumiere.

Fark, who runs the Tea Tray cafe, in Osborne Road, Southsea, says the occasion will a be a great chance to show off Portsmouth’s fine architecture – which often goes unnoticed. Fark – whose real name is Mark Jones – said: ‘Projecting onto buildings is something which has been done for quite a while, but it’s a really good project and makes people look at a building that might sometimes be missed. If you look at the architecture in Portsmouth, some of it is phenomenal.

‘Unless you are looking, you don’t really notice it.

‘By putting something on a building, whether that be graffiti or a piece of street art, you can change how a buildng is perceived.

‘It’s something different, new and exciting. Bringing that sort of thing to Portsmouth will attract people from outside of the city, to come and look and see what we have to offer.’

In January, the festival was brought to London for the first time, with light installations sited around Piccadilly, Grosvenor Square, and King’s Cross. The front of Westminster Abbey was illuminated with coloured light projected onto statues by artist Patrice Warrener.