After the excitement of an Enchanted Park and Enchanted Palace it was time to see some lights in a city, with the return of Lumiere London, just in time for my birthday. Heather and I made it for the last evening, travelling tubes through the night to see the twinkling lights.
The vagaries of trains meant that we actually got into London at Victoria (a different station every weekend it seems). From there, once we’d sorted the right direction out, we walked down to Westminster Cathedral and the excellent The Rose. A “rose window” built from recycled plastic bottles the power for the colourful lights came from rows of stationary bicycles being ridden by the passing public. If the peddling let up the window would go out piece by piece, while more effort saw the power monitor rise from red to green and light spread out from the roses centre. It was a lovely way to begin our adventure and Heather even had a go at cycling to produce some of the power needed to light up the night.
Further down the road was a large scale projection up the side of a tower. This was Daniel Canogar’s Asalto London consisting, it seemed, of a video of people “crawling” up the building it was something of a disappointment after the fine start. we watched it for a moment before turning round and heading back to the station, with another chance to see the much better rose on the way.
A trip on the Victoria line took us up to Kings Cross and after walking through seemingly miles of tunnels we emerged into the night by the permanently there birdcage of Identified Flying Object. Walking up the road from there our way was colourfully lit by a row of giant anglepoise lamps, as if some giants were using the modern, clean area the rear of Kings Cross is becoming as some sort of desk. Around the corner from the lamps were some glowing hemispheres looking disturbingly like some dalek manifestation which the accompanying soundscape did nothing to dispel. We didn’t like that much so left it behind to cross the Regent’s Canal where we found a shimmering, ethereal blue mist.
The mist was Waterlicht covering Granary Square in ever shifting clouds of swirling light. A representation and reminder of water, standing beneath the display felt like being beneath some sort of futuristic shield—even the drizzle which had been falling couldn’t get through (or maybe it had stopped). We wandered entranced around the mist for quite some time before heading further into the building site that this bit of the area has become. There was a projection onto a screen hanging from a crane that did nothing to grab our attention—the pretty lit up flowers scattered in the spaces between the street food vans seemed more interesting.
Beyond the food stalls lay a field of what looked like plastic stalks, gently illuminated. It looked an interesting piece to walk through but the queue to do so was too off putting so we headed round by the old gas storage cylinders. The giant frames which once held the gasometers have been converted to now frame offices and flats. One is left open as a circular garden—an interesting use of old industrial heritage. Next to these, alongside the canal, a group of glowing watering cans tended to some plants. The canal path itself was festooned with lamps made from more recycled bottles. They led us back around to walk beneath the glowing mist again.
Crossing through the mists and up the other side brought us to what may be my favourite piece. The otherworldly Aether hung in space, an ambient surround of sound accompanying its ever shifting patterns. We were transfixed by it, wondering if this were some alien message to us. Every time we thought its display may be over it produced some new startling trick of light. Eventually we did drag ourselves away from the excellent show and headed back to the underground, through a tunnel which I think was supposed to contain an art piece but seemed a boring tunnel to me.
This time it was the Piccadilly line which whisked us away, down to Leicester Square where a pub provided a chance for a rest before heading on into the square itself. Whether because of lucky timings or being on the last night there weren’t the huge crowds of last time so it was easy to pass through the gardens. There we were greeted by familiar sights with the Lantern Company‘s huge glowing flowers of Enchanted Parks forming the woods for the Night Creatures of the same event, combining into Nightlife. It was nice to see the hedgehogs, badger, and fox again along with s couple of further additions. We circled them, saying hi to the giant frog and huge leaping hare before going in search of some flamingoes.
The flamingoes were a bit tricky to locate. Our map showed them as being on Gerrard Street but it turned out they were touring around China Town. We caught up with them in the end just as they were turning the corner to where we were. Following them along the road as their giant wings slowly flapped and heads dipped and bobbed among the oriental restaurants was a strange thing. We left them behind and strolled through the London night down past St Martins-in-the-Fields. High above on its steeple was the rather boring bright pink ladder of Echelle.
In Trafalgar Square we found another sound accompanied display, this time of gently bobbing and flashing balloons. The balloon blobs filled the square, white blobs turning on and off with the sounds. We watched them a while in their peculiar motion before circling round to Charing Cross to head for the last part of our adventure.
Walking across Hungerford Bridge the London Eye looked very pretty over the river, joining in with Lumiere, while Charing Cross itself looked almost psychedelic behind us. Strolling around the south bank it seemed a bit too easy to miss so e of the installations within the multilayered levels. We did spy the glowing pyramid roof lights such roof lights will always remind me of York University of Sixty Minute Spectrum, though they weren’t that interesting. We did find our way along to The Wave which, once we’d taken the steward’s advice to go down the side rather than queuing to get in, felt like some sort of launch tunnel ready to shoot us into the lights.
That was about it though. After a late stop at Giraffe for some food all the lights were out and it was a tube back around to Victoria and home.
As usual, quite a lot of photos were taken