The Durham Lumiere: Overrated?

Sophie Hicks tells us about the infamous Durham Lumiere, and to what degree she feels it's overrated.

4th December 2017

The Durham Lumiere happens every two years, and is a much–anticipated event. 240,000 people went to it over the weekend, but was it worth the hype?

The Durham Lumiere is a light show that Durham Council puts on, and is the UK’s largest light festival. Around the city there are different light exhibitions to see during a weekend in November. It is quite beautiful when the night is so dark, but honestly the antic gets quite old quickly. At first, you’re in awe of the lights, but then after about fifteen, you aren’t shocked.

There were some highlights, such as going inside the Durham Cathedral at night and watching it illuminate from inside to the bells chiming. However, in order to go inside, you had to wait in a queue to go inside, which took about an hour. The queue was in pitch black so that the outside Cathedral lights could be seen, but it meant that for an hour, you were in pitch-black, in mud and almost falling over whenever there was a dip in the terrain because you can’t see it. Whilst it was beautiful inside to see the architecture detail illuminate, I would say it was not worth the wait in the cold.

Watching fire twist to terrible club-music bass is not what I had expected from the Durham Lumiere

One of my favourite exhibitions was a lit-up wall of bars of some sort, and people were hitting them to make a chime-noise that sounded quite pretty. Another photogenic scene were lights reflecting on the river from the trees opposite, which gave a reflected illusion of vibrant colours. However, when the river is so long and there’s nothing else to see down there, it can be quite boring. On the other hand, some were slightly more creepy. Illuminated on Durham Castle was ‘Our Moon’, a terrifying moon face that moved around and watched people. I cannot begin to describe how haunting it was. And then some, in my opinion, were cop-outs. A ‘Fire Tornado’ is not a light? I know that fire produces light, but watching fire twist to terrible club-music bass is not what I had expected from the Durham Lumiere.

Overall, I feel that the Durham Lumiere was highly overrated. Whilst it was fun to see a few, when you have so many to see and so much walking to do in the freezing cold, it is no longer enjoyable.

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