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Survival Guide to Lumiere 2019

I’m addressing you, freshers and second years. You, for whom the word Lumiere still means nothing, or you French-speakers who still simply think it signifies light.

From 14 – 17 November 2019, Durham illuminates its streets with artwork in its biennial festival: Lumiere. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the acclaimed festival, with 37 artworks, both former and new, programmed to create emotion in every corner of our City.

This may seem innocent and calm, but speaking for all of us Lumiere veterans, it involves a lot of people coming to the city which can make day to day life a little different during the festival. Forget about your dark night-time walks along the river, or your silent commute back from Maiden Castle, as the streets of Durham fill up with nation-wide tourists moving between the light displays. To all of you that still don’t understand, the city centre will be blocked with barriers at certain times and getting a table at Flat White may not be so easy!

 Fear not, here is your guide to surviving the awe-inspiring and beautiful: Lumiere 2019.

  1. Tickets are only necessary to access the peninsula (meaning the town centre) between 4.30-7.30 pm. Avoid queues by heading there later with your friends. The festival remains open until 11 pm!
  2. IT IS FREE !
  3. For those of you living in Bailey Colleges, there is a system in place so you can access your college whenever you want. The ‘Gold Pass’ system is for all of those living or studying around the centre. Your college and department will let you know when to collect your pass.
  4. Layer up! As full of people as it may get, nights in Durham at this time of year are chilly (more like freezing) and the neon lights provide no heat. Avoid yourself the re-freshers flu by wearing warm clothes, a waterproof wouldn’t go a miss in case it rains a brolly may not be advisable in the busy areas.
  5. Do not remain in the centre! The peninsula will hold 11 of the 37 artworks on display, the rest will be scattered around the University’s Botanic Garden (this is not to be missed), the River Walk, The Gala Theatre, libraries etc. Consult the Lumiere website or download the app to know exactly where there will be displays, and make sure you see all of them!
  6. Don’t attempt to see everything in one day. I understand it is tempting to walk 25k steps in one evening, but you will enjoy a lot more if you don’t leave everything to the last day (this is not a formative essay).
  7. Eat at home. That is my personal advice. As far as I remember, two years ago there were hog roast and chips stands around town with queues but you could save some coin and time by eating at home.

Lumiere is the UK’s largest light festival. It attracts people from all around the nation, but as Durham students (The University is a big partner of the festival) we happen to live in the middle of it all. It can be busy, yes, but ultimately, it will be one of your most memorable weekends in Durham (you’ll hopefully remember it more that some nights out). It is a beautiful celebration, encompassing stunning artwork and a vibrant community. Lumiere is what you make it to be, so gather some friends, plan a route and enjoy the most over-the-top event you’ll ever experience in Durham!

Find out all you need to know about Lumiere here

Marina Mestres-Segarra

Heya! I’m Marina, a Combined Honours 4th year from Grey College. I’m from Barcelona but have a lot of experience living abroad and travelling to random places (which means I know plenty of useless facts). I breathe and bleed coffee, so you’re most likely to find me in town, having some liquid goodness, dancing around or fundraising for charities. If not, check the airport, it’s always a good bet too. Follow me on Instagram @wheretofindmarina
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