Bristol Light Festival is returning to the city from this Friday 2nd – Sunday 11th February, with more spectacular installations set to dazzle and delight.
The annual festival celebrating light and art is set to offer 10 days of interactive and immersive light installations, which will be illuminated every evening between 5-10pm.
Two new installations
The final two, vastly different installations have been announced, and are designed to respond to their locations. One is set to adorn one of Bristol’s most iconic landmarks, and the other is a bold statement of what Bristolians already know; that coming to Bristol is always a good idea.
The ruins of Temple Church will be magically illuminated in this new work for Bristol Light Festival set to music from Hannah Peel and Bristol-based Paraorchestra’s No. 1 Classical Album.
With a lighting team led by Alex Keighley from industry-leading events company, SLX, The Unfolding will invite audiences to look up in a space which is usually closed to the public. The soundscape by Hannah Peel and Paraorchestra will create a meditative experience, while onlookers watch beams of light gently move to the music, to reveal a canopy above them, bringing the building to life through light.
Katherine Jewkes said:
“The Unfolding will be a multi-sensory experience leaving visitors feeling serene, offering a moment of peace and reflection. Each of the installations at this year’s festival are selected to conjure a different feeling for visitors, or to invite a different reaction. While many of the pieces are bolder and louder in their approach to light, The Unfolding contrasts this, using multiple senses to create a calmer atmosphere in an otherwise vivid experience. I’m delighted that Hannah Peel and Paraorchestra have allowed us the opportunity to showcase their music in this new and beautiful way.”
Alex Keighley, SLX said:
“The Unfolding is going to be a spectacular addition to Bristol Light Festival. One of the big inspirations behind the lighting and design of the installation was Temple Church and the Templar era of this sacred site, so we’ve included in the design-projected circles that were made popular during this time. The venue is so inspiring, and as we are a Bristol-based company, it’s great to be doing something so special in our hometown and to be part of such an exciting event.”
Jonathan Harper, Chief Executive of Paraorchestra, said:
“Paraorchestra is proud of its Bristol base and the relationship we have with audiences, artists and partners across the city. This means we were delighted to be approached for this project. To hear Hannah Peel and Paraorchestra’s track The Unfolding recontextualised alongside this installation by Alex Keighley in the serenity of Temple Church ought to be a very special experience for visitors to the Bristol Light Festival.”
Bristol is always a Good Idea
Bristol is always a Good Idea is inspired by the work of Dave Buonaguidi, better known as Real Hackney Dave. Dave is a Hackney-based artist, combining the visual and verbal language of advertising and propaganda with unique imagery and materials to create predominantly language-based pieces of art.
The phrase ‘Bristol is always a Good Idea’ invites visitors as well as residents into the city centre, to engage with the streets in a new way. This artwork was inspired by his “Good Idea” Print series featuring the phrase which will now be scaled up and brought to life in huge, eye-catching pink text.
Dave Buonaguidi said:
“I love making ideas that are active rather than passive and I often explore the relationship that we have with locations to create extra emotional traction. Screen printing my pink typography onto vintage maps is great fun but I really get excited about bringing the idea to life, in the real world, with huge letters. I have always loved Bristol and the passion that people who live there have for their hometown, so being part of a project that celebrates that is very exciting.”
All installation locations
Pulse by This is Loop - Lloyds Amphitheatre
The 40-metre long immersive, audio-visual installation will be taking over Lloyds Amphitheatre on the Harbourside. Pulse invites festival-goers to step inside enormous rings of light to experience a new perspective of Bristol.
Evanescent by Atelier Sisu - College Green
Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the inflatable bubbles that will be appearing on College Green, to explore our delicate world with a sense of play and wonder.
Ascendance by Studio McGuire - St Stephens Church
World premier light artwork Ascendance will dazzle inside St Stephens Church, where the audience will see an astronaut floating in an imaginary galaxy of blooming flowers and shooting stars.
The Unfolding by SLX & Bristol Light Festival - Temple Church
The ruins of Temple Church will be transformed into a gentle, meditative experience thanks to a beautiful design by Alex Keighley from SLX accompanied by the music of Hannah Peel and Bristol-based Paraorchestra.
Emergence by This is Loop - Broadmead
Broadmead will be taken over by a huge mirrored structure, which is completely reflective, to provide attendees with a new perspective of a once-familiar space, and to provide a place of contemplation against the chaos of the outside world.
Sarah Tinsley, Director of Marketing & Placemaking, Hammerson said:
“Collaborating with our city partners and creatives is just one of the innovative ways we are evolving our assets, including Cabot Circus, from places where people come only to shop to ‘destinations’, offering a real mix of entertainment, leisure, social and cultural experiences. Last year, we delivered a number of high-profile artistic activations which tapped into Bristol’s rich cultural heritage and garnered national attention, so we are excited to start the year as a partner and host for the return of Bristol Light Festival. Bristol Light Festival is becoming a favourite in the city’s event calendar, and we are looking forward to bringing a fantastic installation to Cabot Circus, to really brighten up those winter nights as part of this fabulous city-wide trail.”
Elysian by Atelier Sisu - Quakers Friars
At Quakers Friars near Cabot Circus, visitors to the Bristol Light Festival will walk through and under giant inflatable arches, which combine art and architecture (better known as art-chitecture) to wow observers.
Swing Song by Tired Industries & Bristol Light Festival - Queen Square
Swing Song is back! Returning to Bristol on Queen Square this time, the six interactive swings will once again light up and play music as Bristolians and visitors to the city swing together to create a beautiful symphony.
WildLight by BBC Studios Natural History Unit & Bristol Light Festival - Finzels Reach
Finzels Reach will be showing its wild side, as animals escape TV screens into the area around Left Handed Giant, celebrating BBC’s Natural History Unit, which has been based in Bristol since 1957.’ As BBC studios hasn’t been around since 1957.
Bristol is Always a Good Idea by Real Hackney Dave - Valentine Bridge
Those crossing Valentine Bridge at Temple Quay will be reminded that “Bristol is always a Good Idea,” thanks to the work of Real Hackney Dave, inspired by the iconic ‘Good Idea’ print series.
The Nectary by Alison Smith & Dr Chris Hassall - Queen Square
Joining Swing Song on Queen Square will be the giant glowing flowers of The Nectary, which highlights how listening to nature can increase understanding of the delicate ecosystems that are so crucial for our future.
Steve Bluff, Head of Redcliffe & Temple BID, said:
“Bristol Light Festival is a really great opportunity to showcase a multitude of talents, and gives local artists the opportunity to play with light in unusual and often unexpected ways. Every year, the festival brings in huge amounts of people from Bristol and beyond, giving the city a wonderful economic boost in the winter months. Plus, it can’t hurt to remind people that Bristol is always a good idea.”
Left Handed Giant x Bristol Light Festival
For the 2024 event, Left Handed Giant has once again created the event’s official beer. This year’s ‘Vivid Beams’ is a bright and balanced ale full of citrusy grapefruit and juicy berry character, using a blend of Citra, Huell Melon, Ella and Simcoe. While visitors check out the BBC Studios installation WildLight, they can grab a can of Vivid Beams while there to enjoy the full Bristol Light Festival experience.
Bristol Light Festival was founded by Bristol City Centre Business Improvement District (BID) and is presented in partnership with Redcliffe & Temple BID. The festival’s Artwork Partners are Broadmead BID and Cabot Circus. Visit Bristol, Visit West’s consumer channel for Bristol, is this year’s media partner. The festival is curated by Katherine Jewkes, Creative Director.
Staying in Bristol
For those looking for somewhere to stay in Bristol City Centre during the festival, a list of offers and discounts for some of the best hotels in the area can be found at bristollightfestival.org/accommodation/. The festival recommends booking early to avoid disappointment.
Bristol Light Festival recommends travelling as sustainably as possible. Visitors are encouraged to walk or cycle to the festival where possible, or to utilise the many train and bus options available to the city centre. More information about getting to the festival can be found here: bristollightfestival.org/getting-here/