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Enjoy 60 free events as Light Night returns to illuminate Leeds

Written by
Jess Hardiman
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A multi-arts and light festival taking place annually in October at various venues throughout Leeds city centre, Light Night first started life in 2005 as a means to provide free access to art and venues that people might not normally get to experience.

As part of Light Up The North, a network of seven light festivals taking place across the north of England, Light Night has become established as an event that’s not only a spectacular cultural feat each year, but also an approachable way for people of all ages to come together and enjoy everything from art and film to music and dance.

For its eleventh year, which incidentally also coincides with the UNESCO International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies, the festival kicks off on Friday October 9, where you can expect a plethora of activities, events and installations to sink your teeth into.

Wave GardenLight Night

When it comes to visual spectaculars, make sure to stop by Millennium Square to see the LED artworks from Paul Friedlander called 'Wave Garden'. This display will change colour constantly, ‘painting’ patterns onto the surface of sculptural forms that appear to be made of pure light.

Or, if it’s a showstopper you’re after, head down to the West Yorkshire Playhouse for The Looking Glass, which sees the iconic fly tower transformed by a huge, immersive digital projection taking you on an audio-visual journey from the very centre of the earth up into outer space, complete with a live performance (8.30pm) by the young people of WYP’s First Floor.

West Yorkshire Playhouse

Elsewhere, Leeds Cathedral plays host to The Sun at Night, a 30-minute projection exploring our relationship with the sun using breathtaking images from NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory. In response to the installation, the University of Leeds will also have astrophysicists on site to explain star formation, astronomy and answer any questions about that big burning ball of fire in the sky.

At the Carriageworks' main theatre there will be a short aerial dance theatre show every hour, on the hour, following seven women challenged by humanity as they come to realise only two lifelines are placed in front of them. You'll also find a large installation inspired by Ancient Greek mythology that sychronises light, sound, colour and movement through projection mapping and a soundtrack by Stuart Mellor, whilst the Carriageworks Young Theatre Makers will explore what it is to be new to things with a fun interactive performance (7pm, 7.30pm).

Meanwhile, Leeds City Museum partners three fire-focused Greek and Roman myths incorporating lighting effects, masked characters, interactive storytelling and sculpture with a 3D DJ, which uses projection mapping to give the illusion of depth and movement, along with the opportunity for you to have a go at DJing with a difference!

For the party people of Leeds, the Outlaws Yacht Club will be paying homage to the almighty disco ball with The Mirror Ball, combining 3D projection mapping, laser installation, illustration and music, soundtracked by a special mix tape curated by some of the world's most respected DJs and diggers.

Outlaw Yacht Club

Another good one for grown ups, Belgrave Music Hall welcomes Dr Sketchy's Anti Art School for an after dark session (9-10.15pm) with art challenges, prizes and burlesque performances from Cece Sinclair, Rock Hart and others. Earlier in the evening will also see family-appropriate life drawing sessions, suitable for people of all skill levels.

As part of the night, many of the city's museums, galleries and cultural centres will also be opening their doors outside of their conventional hours for the chance to simply explore the exhibitions and displays that lie within, including The Gallery at Munro House, the Henry Moore Institute and Leeds Art Gallery.

And if you're just in the mood for a stroll to lap everything up, keep an eye out for amazing projections, such as a giant neon piece from Shanaz Gulzar and Steve Manthorp on the size of 1 City Square and Rebecca Smith and Peter Barber's live projection onto the facade of the Leeds College of Art, which will be set against a soundscape from sonic artist Jimmy Power. Need more structure? You can find various route suggestions here.

Light Night, Friday October 9, 6-11pm, Take a look at the full brochure here.

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