This was the first year we toured the Festival of Light and it was such a great, and interesting experience. We travelled across three of Hammerson’s main centres, Southampton’s Westquay, Birmingham’s Bullring and Dundrum’s Town Centre. It was an amazing experience for all of us on the team, and we all got fully stuck in over the 3-4 weeks of the event.

SOUTHAMPTON

Our first stop was Southampton. This was our third year producing the Festival of Light in Southampton so we knew the site well. Working with the team at Westquay is always a pleasure and makes logistics and deliveries for both install and derig a smooth process.

Out of the three locations on the tour, Southampton’s Westquay was the biggest with five light installations and also included two sets of colourful ambient lighting that light the beautiful historic Southampton city walls in beautiful colourful wash of rainbow colours!!

Each of the installations had a beautiful interactive element and all provided a different means of interaction. Control, No Control from Studio Irregular provided feedback to touch in light and sound, Wave from Squidsoup enveloping the audience with 500 point surround sound and lighting from 500 individual orbs, Lightbattle from Light Art Collection which pitted visitors against each other in a stationary bike race with overhead lighting displaying who had the better pedal power and Planetarium from ACTLD inviting visitors to lie back and fully immerse themselves in a hazed, abstract, celestial display of light and sound.

As this is the third year of Festival of Light in Southampton, there is a demand for the event from local guests and local families who travel to experience the Festival over the half term week!

BIRMINGHAM

Birmingham was stop number 2 on our tour which launched on 1st March. The space outside the Bullring was definitely a new set of challenges for the build, not least the fact that The Bullring sits at the bustling and busy heart of the UKs second city.

We had to make sure that all deliveries were done overnight and fenced off the installation areas ensuring that the artists had a sterile and safe working space when the daily commuter rush began. The build took three days and nights with our team having to keep a close eye on the approaching Storm Freya!

Storm Freya hit us hard in Birmingham with winds as high as 50mp hitting the event space where the installations were. After careful deliberation our H&S officer and production manager on site Louise, had to closed the festival for one night on Sunday 3rd March and install additional ballast to cope with the extreme weather conditions.

Birmingham’s Festival of Light saw three of the original five installations on show (WAVE, CONTROL, NO CONTROL and LIGHTBATTLE) along with colourful ambient lighting illuminating St Martins Church, and a selection of different LED entertainment every night. We had some amazing LED drummers, LED ballerinas and poi performers for the duration of the festival to ensure something different was on offer for regular visitors to The Bullring.

Overall the event was a great success with high footfalls and visitor engagements. The weather was definitely not on our side though, as well as Storm Freya we had strong wind and sideways rain doing its best to wash out the Festival of Light as best it could! The visitor feedback via social media was really positive, using the hashtag #glowbrum. People shared their journeys to and from work with the addition of the light installations making their journeys more interesting and enjoyable!

DUNDRUM

Our third and final stop on the tour was Dundrum Town Centre, which is about 20 minutes away from Dublin.

The space in Dundrum Town Centre was a fantastic natural event space with pre-existing water fountains that created a beautiful focal point to the town centre. Getting the installations from Birmingham to Ireland took around a week, and it was touch and go at one point with one of our containers arriving in time. The truck and container were due to arrive on the Tuesday night giving us enough days to build Light Battle, however the container was stopped at every possible point and fully searched at the border which meant the container didn’t arrive to location until Thursday. The team worked closely with the DTC team and kept everyone updated throughout and all were very relieved when the installation was ready to be installed on site.  Fortunately, this all blew under the carpet, and the container arrived. The crew then pulled a solid shift to get the installation installed in time for the opening night! Thank goodness.

We took the same installations from Birmingham, Light Battle, Wave and Control, No Control. The installations all featured in the most intimate space out of all three locations which created a great close atmosphere for the event. It was really interesting to see the way in which the different communities interacted with the installations and Light Battle was a particular hit in this space.

The launch for the event at Dundrum was a big success with families and friends coming together with live music and ambassadors encouraging the community to get involved! It was a great first festival of light in Dundrum, received well by everyone who visited… we can’t wait to return!

Big thank you to all the team at Hammerson and everyone on site at each location – we loved working with you all!

Kathryn Malloch, Head of Customer Experience at Hammerson

“Consumers are increasingly looking for unique and memorable experiences when they visit our flagship destinations, and that is what Festival of Light 2019 was all about. Events like this not only drive footfall, they also lead to increased sales for the brands in our destinations, and attract new shoppers who might not be frequent visitors. Festival of Light is just one part of the £2m experiential events programme we have planned for 2019. Exciting upcoming events include The Maze at Westquay, a 400m extravaganza with a hidden surprise at its centre.”