Lumiere, now a landmark event in the cultural calendar of the region, returns to Durham for the fifth time in November

If it rains at this year’s Lumiere – the fifth extraordinary festival of light in Durham – at least there will be lots of umbrellas around. And you won’t be able to miss them – scores of LED-lit brollies will pop up around the city in a mobile art installation called The Umbrella Project by show makers Cirque Bijoux.

Set to return from November 16-19, the UK’s largest light festival will once again attract leading artists from around the world to come together to the birthplace of the Lumiere festival and illuminate the historic city in new and inspiring ways.

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Durham’s iconic landmarks, including the cathedral, the castle and the historic Miners’ Hall at Redhills, will once again be lit up, but the energy, warmth and enthusiasm of the local people and communities have become central to the story, providing both the inspiration and context for the artwork.

Leading artists such as Pablo Valbuena (Spain), Hannah Fox (UK) and the artistic collective Shared Space and Light (UK) will respond to Durham’s unique locations with bold and captivating new work, bringing to light the world-famous cathedral and the unsung heroes of the public sector. All the artists have worked closely with communities, Valbuena drawing upon the Bell Major of Durham cathedral and bellringing communities through the UK; Hannah Fox working with 66 people from the local area aged five to 78 and capturing their expressions for Our Moon, which will be beamed onto Durham Castle during the festival; and Shared Space and Light interviewing and working closely with 70 participants from fire fighters and refuse collectors to teachers and police officers in The Common Good. Video interviews of the participants will be screened onto Durham Miners’ Hall during the festival to highlight the important work they carry out on a day-to-day basis as well as shining a light on occasions when they have gone above and beyond.

One of those taking part is Barbara Tate, a vulnerable persons’ advocate at Darlington Fire and Rescue Service. “We are very proud and excited to be part of this. It is an excellent way to promote the service and the job we do,” she says.

Shared Space and Light were also involved in the last Lumiere in 2015. “Our work focuses on revealing hidden stories – giving a voice to people who maybe don’t get recognised as much as they should,” says Giles Thacker, one of the artists working on the project.

Louise Dennison, producer at Artichoke, says meeting those taking part in the installation had proved a real inspiration. “It’s so important to feature the public as part of the artwork because they are the inspiration for the festival,” she says. “It’s their city and it’s an amazing thing to shout about.”

Artichoke are also hosting a one-day conference on Friday, November 15, costing £35, with the theme: Who are we and where are we headed?