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Institute of Advanced Study

The Potentialities of Light Festivals


In this paper, Dr Tim Edensor considers how light festivals are part of a broader trend that adopts a more innovative approach to lighting design in moving away from homogeneous forms of illumination that flood space with light. There is, increasingly, a greater focus on creativity, an appreciation of the distinctive qualities of place, and a commitment to greater sustainability. He investigates three qualities that are countering standardised, somewhat bland nightscapes, namely defamiliarisation, deepening a sense of place and the production of convivial and festive atmospheres. Dr Tim Edensor provide sexamples from diverse light festivals, including Durham’s Lumiere, staged over four nights in November 2013, and attracting 175,000 people.

Insights Paper