Witness Leeds in a new light as the UK’s largest annual arts and light festival returns to city centre tomorrow.
For two days only, Leeds Light Night will transform the city into an illuminated piece of artwork. Installations, exhibitions and performances can be found around every nook and corner across the city on Thursday 14 October and Friday 15 October.
This year, a particular focus will be on fighting climate change. All proceeds will go directly towards a local tree planting initiative to offset the festival’s carbon footprint through the Leeds Woodland Creation Scheme.
Try and catch a lightning bolt without being struck over at the Civic Hall. Leeds will be at the mercy of nature, being regularly hit by bolts of lightning during the festival.
This installation, amongst the four others at Millennium Square will be safe and enjoyable for all the family to get involved in. Other works will include giant neon dogs and larger-than-life insects at the City Museum.
Feel as though you’re in heaven down at Headrow, where installation On Earth (as it is in Heaven) portrays moments between worlds.
On Earth as it is in Heaven crosses the border between the visible and the invisible, the material and the spiritual, and is truly mesmerizing. Nature lovers will also have the chance to mimic a pollinating insect, moving from flower to flower installation at The Nectary installation.
The most striking installation at this year’s Light Night might just be the Climate Countdown Clock at Leeds Town Hall. The live clock counts down the critical time window for us to reach zero emission and tracks progress towards a safe climate future.
There’s nothing like putting something into large-scale perspective to help us realise how important it is to reduce carbon consumption. There will also be two late-night openings at the Art Gallery and a spectacular audio visual show around the Town Hall.
Peculiar tentacles have been spotted emerging from some familiar city centre buildings, but what planet are they from? The Creature Invasion! installation has been designed as a colourful and playful scene that will keep visitors of all ages looking up at the skies.
If you’d rather party to the beat of a DJ, head inside Kirkgate Market for the Flower Power Silent Disco and enjoy an evening of 70s music.
Exhibitions at Briggate is all about looking forward to the future. The Dear Leeds installation is a giant poem hanging in two tonnes of neon to give a message of hope and solidarity.
The pandemic has been a pivotal moment in all of our lives and the poem pays homage to the people of Leeds that have kept us all going during this difficult time. Another interesting installation in Briggate is the Hourglass piece from Emergency Exit Arts. The sculptural piece maps an epic quest for safety where the young child at the centre of the story must migrate to find ‘new hope’.
Walk in wonder through this forest installation of oversized robotic flowers near the station in a futuristic exhibition called Digital Playground. The city oasis aims to remind us all to take it more slowly, breathe and play.
Rather than replacing nature with robotics, the installation reminds us of our relationship with the environment and its importance in our everyday lives. The environmental theme spans round the station with a lifesize polar bear sculpture on display and meditative projections.
Gaia, at Queen Square, is an incredible replica of our planet, created using NASA imagery of the Earth’s surface. The giant sculpture will give you an out-of-this-world experience, whilst also reminding us of the fragility of our planet.
The artist hopes this will inspire Leeds to protect the planet for future generations but if you’re more interested in the relationship of light and the planet, the Entwined Light at Merrion Gardens clashes natural and the man-made to create a beautiful exhibition.
SOYO (Quarry Hill)
Quarry Hill will be full of character over the Light Nights: with performances from the Leeds Dance Partnership, Leeds City College, Choir of Leeds Minster and more. Shown three times each evening, Mutation Space is an immersive dance and visual experience exploring the nature of viruses and the human impact on our environment and health.
If you’d prefer a break from anything pandemic-related, the Quarry Hill campus will be focusing on the theme of getting back to nature with their If You Go Down To The Woods Tonight exhibition. Live performances, rooftop conversations and never-seen-before images will all be a part of the immersive experience.
Outside the centre
Not all of the experiences are available in the city centre, but are certainly worth travelling for. The Mystery Bird, in particular, is a moving installation that represents the loss of freedom in 2020.
The inspiration for this exhibition came from the simplicity of lockdown, when. hearing birdsong at a time when the world was quietly held at a temporary standstill represented the change in lifestyle for us all. The installation will be in Holbeck on Thursday 14 October and Chapeltown Friday 15 October.
What’s eighteen metres long and looks like a whale? What could sound like the start of a bad joke is actually a huge kinetic light sculpture that recalls big marine mammals and fossil skeletons.
Witness the poetic dance of what could be the ghost of the last remaining whale on earth and take a moment to understand the impact of mankind on our biodiversity at this thought provoking installation. There will also be magical fibre optic water poured from cans and a number of other animal and agricultural-based installations around South Bank over the two days.
For more information on Leeds Light Night 2021, visit their website. The two-day event will take place on Thursday 14 October and Friday 15 October, but check in advance for timings of performances and installations as some will not be available across the entire festival.
Feature Image- Leeds Light Night