Staged around outdoor locations across MediaCity and Salford Quays, Lightwaves Festival returns and invites visitors to explore a trail of dramatic light art installations that animate and transform the urban waterside area in the lead up to Christmas. With previous events featuring fire sculptures and butterfly clusters as well as Luke Jerram’s ‘Floating Earth’ installation take to the water, the line-up of beautiful light sculptures for this year have been highly-anticipated.
Now in its tenth year, the free event will take place from Thursday 7th to Sunday 10th December, lighting up different locations around Salford Quays and MediaCity. From 4pm to 10pm each evening, visitors can enjoy illuminated works from leading artists, both local and national, bringing a variety of different pieces; thought-provoking, surprising and playful.
This year Lightwaves will feature 15 artworks, three of which are brand new commissions by Quays Culture. The full programme will be announced later in November, but visitors can expect a variety of different works using light, sound and technology to create a mesmerizing experience.
The full programme for this year’s Lightwaves Festival will include:
A world-premiere, CETUS is a luminescent artwork taking the form of a 6-metre long whale shark. The life-like appearance is enhanced by transparent fish scales, creating a shimmering effect as it swims through dark waters. CETUS has been commissioned by Lightwaves Salford from Loomaland – the Berlin-based artists who created CYGNUS, the flotilla of 12 floating swans that was popular at Lightwaves 2021.
Pulse is a large-scale, immersive installation which spans a 50 metre stretch of the MediaCity Piazza. Made up of huge mirrored rings, audiences can enjoy the multi-sensory experience of moving through the installation. Pulse is created by Loop, UK-based artists whose playful sculptures invite audiences to take part in thought-provoking audio visual journeys.
One Way or Another
One Way or Another by Tom Biddulph uses a set of radically revised road signs to give humanity a shared direction for the future. Tom Biddulph is a visual artist originally from Manchester currently living in Amsterdam who works with multiple mediums.
A captivating display of hundreds of hand-made, illuminated fibre optic flowers, Crystal Flowers is a reminder to take our time and appreciate the natural world around us. Created by Stevie Thompon – Custom Fibre Optics as a commission by Light Up the North as part of the SHINE Emerging Artist Programme.
Valkyrie is a huge glowing orb which responds to voices. Inspired by the Northern Lights, you can create your own aurora borealis by speaking into the sculpture. Artist Alison Smith (UK) creates immersive light installations and lit sculptures using recycled materials. For Valkyrie, Alison collaborated with artist and technologist Matt Collins (UK).
Award-winning pioneers of outdoor art, Walk the Plank, return to Lightwaves Salford with a Fire Garden which includes three brand new giant sculptures – one over 9 metres in size. The Fire Garden blends moving sculpture with fire and light to create an exhilarating spectacle that visitors of all ages will enjoy.
On a more intimate scale, The Nectary is created by artist Alison Smith with Dr Chris Hassall and uses light and sound to envelop you in a multi-sensory experience. Six giant hanging blooms allow visitors to immerse themselves in nature and increase appreciation for delicate ecosystems that are so crucial for our future.
Decade of Light
A special commission by Quays Culture to celebrate the 10th year of Lightwaves Festival, Decade of Light is a gift to all those who have made the last decade so special. A rainbow-coloured column of a light reflects the diversity of all those who bring creativity and joy to Salford Quays and MediaCity each winter.
Human Aquarium: Deep Water
Human Aquarium: Deep Water is a thought-provoking immersive installation featuring a 3D origami boat and recreates a deep-water environment to take visitors on an ecologically themed journey. Deep Water is led by digital artist Annabeth Robinson (UK) at the University of Salford in collaboration with Leeds-based arts organisation (and dry land synchronized swimming team) Yorkshire Life Aquatic.
Fish Are Jumping
Located in the water at Mariner’s Canal, next to Salford Watersports Centre, Fish are Jumping by Studio Toer (Netherlands) evokes that blink-and-you-miss-it second where you spot a fish leaping out of water – a playful blend of light and dark, sound and silence, made up of 16 individual light sources.
Night Big Bang
Night Big Bang blends technological dreamscapes with digital light drawing, architecture, natural elements and bodies of water. Malik Jama is an artist based at Venture Arts Studios in Hulme, Manchester and this artwork was a co-commission between RHS Garden Bridgewater and Quays Culture and will appear at both locations.
The work of Amigo and Amigo (Australia) has delighted audiences at festivals worldwide and they bring their giant interactive Glow installation to Lightwaves. Illuminated spheres evoke the cycles of the moon, as dancing lights and 40 different musical sounds inspire visitors to interact and play.
Polyrythms is where light, sound and rhythm come together to create a fascinating sculptural artwork. Manchester-based artists Axolotl hope to encourage education and inspiration across STEAM fields, all while crafting work that is both innovative and strikingly beautiful.
Suraj is a celebration of the journey of light created by Breaking Barriers (UK) and artist Akeelah Bertram (UK), which emulates the movement of people in tandem with the rise and fall of the sun. Suraj was co-created with a group of women at Deeplish Community Centre, Rochdale whose memories inspired the piece.
Through No 4
A permanent artwork and a much loved MediaCity landmark, Through No 4 by Liz West will be beautifully illuminated for the duration of Lightwaves Festival, creating a multi-coloured jewel in the dark and the perfect photo opportunity.
Kate Doyle, Head of Programme for Quays Culture, said: “The team at Quays Culture are truly excited by the programme of artworks curated for the 10th edition of Lightwaves Salford. Year on year the event delights audiences of all ages and we’re certain that 2023 will be no exception.
“The programme is our best yet; it’s a culmination of the decade we have spent bringing world class light art to the Quays, and always for free to our audiences. As humans we have a primal response to light, especially in the dark winter months. It brings warmth, wellbeing and intensifies positive emotions. All are welcome to Lightwaves Salford and to experience the joy of light art!”
Lightwaves Festival is free for visitors to attend and aims to bring light and positivity to the cold, dark evenings. Open to everyone, the artworks are fun, interactive and thought-provoking. There are no tickets required to attend, visitors can simply turn up and walk the festival at their own leisure.