Bristol Light Festival

The first-ever Bristol Light Festival illuminated the city centre from Thursday 27 February to Sunday 1 March 2020 and saw 100,000 people interact with and enjoy city centre spaces...

The first-ever Bristol Light Festival illuminated the city centre from Thursday 27 February to Sunday 1 March 2020 and saw 100,000 people interact with and enjoy city centre spaces filled with colour and light.

Projections of graffiti art on a brick wall at night

The event is the first of a three-year series and is designed to make the city more enjoyable for residents, attract visitors and boost the economy during a traditionally cold, dark and quiet month.

A couple, amongst other people, taking a selfie in a light up rectangle hanging from above

The City Centre BID has appointed two acclaimed Bristol-based creative directors – Katherine Jewkes and Vashti Waite – to build the festival into an internationally recognised event over the next three years and forge partnerships beyond the city. We are also leading a Light Festival partnership that includes Bristol City Council and the University of the West of England (UWE)’s Digital Cultures Research Centre, which has secured a £15,000 grant to evaluate the wider impact and benefits of this event on the city, helping to inform its development.

…we have curated a group of fantastic local and international artists who all embody the playful and creative spirit of the city.

Katherine Jewkes, Bristol Light Festival co-director
Updated: Friday 20 February 2021

Bristol Light Festival 2021

It’s been a whole year since we launched the first-ever Bristol Light Festival that bought our city so much fun and joy.

Under a National Lockdown and putting everyone’s safety first, it is with a heavy heart that we have accepted the Festival cannot go ahead this year.

Although the Light Festival won’t illuminate Bristol in 2021, we will be working with our #BristolTogether partners to bring fun and excitement as everyone returns to a re-energised city centre. Watch this space!

Updated: Thursday 20 August 2020

Artist call-out for 2021 *Now closed*

Expressions of interest for the 2021 Bristol Light Festival have now closed.

We received over 150 applications and were overwhelmed with the quality of responses.

If you missed out this time round, you could submit a portfolio to bristollightfestival@gmail.com and we can keep your work on file until the 2022 Festival is being programed.

Updated: Thursday 20 August 2020

Bristol Light Festival says cheers to the city’s frontline workers

The iconic ‘Cheers Drive’ sign, one of nine light installations that featured in this year’s inaugural Bristol Light Festival, has been permanently installed at the city’s bus station on Marlborough Street as a thank you to Bristol’s frontline workers and their commitment throughout the pandemic.

The four-foot neon sign welcomes visitors, workers and residents into the heart of Bristol, whilst also showing gratitude to the thousands of key workers in a highly visual and creative way.

Three men stood in front of a blue sign saying 'Cheers Drive'

Updated: Monday 2 March 2020

The First-ever Bristol Light Festival spreads light across the city

The first Bristol Light Festival has been a huge success!

In a fantastic result for a first-year, approximately 100,000 visitors made their way into Bristol’s city centre, from Thursday 27th February to Sunday 1st March, to visit the nine light installations created by internationally renowned and local artists, despite the wintry conditions.

The festival provided Bristolians and visitors to the city with artworks to interact with and enjoy, whilst also experiencing the great food and drink offer at restaurants and bars across the city centre – some of which experienced their busiest winter weekend of the year.

The Bristol Light Festival was the first of a three-year series presented by Bristol City Centre BID, programmed by creative directors, Katherine Jewkes and Vashti Waite, and delivered in partnership with Bristol City Council and the University of the West of England.

This year, all but one of the installations were powered by the grid, using less power than it takes to use an electric kettle. The remaining installation was powered by a generator using bio-fuel. We have also set out an ambition to be carbon neutral by 2022 and aim to achieve this by carbon offsetting the festival’s minimal footprint through other activities.

For more information on the festival, the installations and the artists involved, visit bristollightfestival.org.

Updated: Thursday 13 February 2020

The full programme of artists announced for Bristol Light Festival

Seven new and exciting artists of light have been added to the programme of local and international talent as part of the Bristol Light Festival, taking place from Thursday 27th February to Sunday 1st March.

Frame Perspective by Olivier Ratsi will transform Millenium Square with a 30-metre-long luminous installation of repeating frames and LED lights. It will give off both bright light and sound creating an interactive experience that alters the surrounding environment.

MilkBottle by Jack Wimperis is a specially commissioned series of light sculptures made out of recycled milk bottles with the aim to raise awareness about single-use plastics. Supported by Cabot circus, Milkbottle Cages will see a sculpture of the recycled milk bottles with embedded LEDs. Milkbottle Screen is a screen of 600 hanging one-pint milk bottles, situated on Castle Park’s bandstand.

Nimbes and Nebulae by Joanie Lemercier will take visitors on a unique journey following an artistic interpretation of a voyage through time and space. Nimbes is a fulldome piece that was created in 2014 In partnership with composer,  James Ginzburg. The installation will be a 15-minute show screened in the Planetarium at We The Curious and will be immediately followed by Nebulae, created in 2019.

Wildlife on the Waterfront by Bristol charity, Send a Cow, will tell the tale of the people and wildlife in Uganda’s oldest national park. In partnership with Bristol’s award-winning Limbic Cinema, the piece will be projected onto the Arnolfini as part of the Living with Wildlife appeal to protect the people and wildlife in Uganda.

Neighbours is an installation created by a collection of local artists who are working together to create a unique piece of light that will pay homage to Bristol’s graffiti culture. It will be revealed as a final surprise on the opening of the festival on Thursday 27th February.

The new artists will join Pink Enchantment by Tine Bech on Castle Bridge, Wave-field Variation Q by Lateral Office and CS Design in Queen Square and Overheard in Bristol consisting of a four metre neon sign installed by Cascade Steps featuring the well-known Bristol saying, ‘CHEERS DRIVE.’

For more information and updates about the festival please visit www.bristollightfestival.org.

Updated: Friday 17 January 2020

First three installations announced

City Centre BID has launched the new Bristol Light Festival website and announced the first three commissions for the festival. They include light art installations that are visiting the South West for the first time as well as brand-new installations created exclusively for this first edition of the festival.

Pink Enchantment by international artist Tine Bech will shroud Castle Bridge in bursts of atmospheric pink mist as walkers and cyclists cross the water.

Wave-Field, Variation Q by Lateral Office will transform Queen Square into a playground of giant seesaws that burst into joyful music and light when played with.

Overheard in Bristol will depict a famous Bristolian phrase in four-foot neon beside the Cascade Steps. It’s sure to become a favoured selfie spot.

A further three art installations will be announced ahead of the festival, so keep checking here for details.

Updated: Wednesday 4 December 2019

Invite: Wednesday 15 January 2020

Join us on Wednesday 15 January, 2020 when we’ll be hosting a levy payer event to introduce the team behind the Bristol Light Festival, share opportunities on how businesses can get involved and celebrate this exciting new festival for our city. More details coming soon.