“I LIKE all the lights”, declares one small boy, bathed in the light of thousands of brightly coloured bulbs.

After almost two years of preparations by organisers, Lumiere Durham finally got underway last night. As the sun set on the city, it burst into light and curious crowds started to gather to see what the artists have come up with this year. From the impressive to the fun, to the awe-inspiring and amusing – the programme seems to have most bases covered.

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Laura Sillars, from Langley Park, says: “We come every year – it’s fantastic. It brings the city to life. It’s definitely one of the best things to happen in Durham.”

The festival, which is backed by Durham County Council, is hoping to attract in the region of 200,000 people over the four days it runs.

Helen Marriage, director of Lumiere producers Artichoke, says: “It’s just really fantastic to be back in town. We come every two years and try to invent a new programme that delights people, challenges them slightly to go and see new places and new spaces and we work in the same iconic lovely city of Durham, and always try and reinvent it in someway just for these brief four days.”

The ticketing system, introduced to reduce crowds in central areas, is in place again. Also in a bid to cut congestion, fewer installations have been placed in the peninsula, with pieces spread more widely across the city.

Council leader Simon Henig says: “There’s a lot going on. Different people engage with different ones. Some really like the interactive ones, other people like the big ones. They’ve got people talking already.

“We’ve tried to spread it out a bit so hopefully people will have a comfortable event and hopefully the weather will stay clear.”

First time visitors Terry and Judy Unsworth, from Barnard Castle, say: “We think it’s great. We’ve just been down to the river and it’s fantastic. It’s very impressive and there’s a nice atmosphere. It’s a superb effort." Mum Sharon Easton, from Consett, whose son had a go using an illuminated stick to scrawl North Road with ‘light graffiti’, says: “It’s digital and it’s interactive – the kids love it.”

At another of the interactive display at Walkergate, talented young musician Georgina Baker, from Wolsingham – usually a clarinet player – managed to play Hallelujah on the “Illumaphonium” – a musical sculpture made out of 100 illuminated tubes.

Her dad Neil Baker says: “It’s been good so far. My favourite has been the fire tornado. Having seen the dust drives in Arizona, I thought it was interesting. The kids have really enjoyed the tubes. This seems to be popular with the children.”

Ala Hola of Durham says: “I love the installation of glass at St Oswald’s and think the Dome and Arches in the Market Place should be kept for Christmas. I come every year. I love it. There is always something different.”

Methods, the installation at Durham Cathedral proved to be a hit with crowds. Inspired by bellringing, the facade of the cathedral was lit in time to the chiming of the bells.

Ashley Cor, of Houghton-le-Spring, says: “It’s the best I’ve seen so far. It’s very impressive and atmospheric, specially with the silhouettes of people moving about.”

Cllr Henig adds: “We take a lot of pride in Lumiere. It will be in London in January and it’s fantastic for Durham to have it here first.

“I really do think it helps our profile and I hope for a good economic impact. But the other thing is the enjoyment of people, young and old, on the street, engaging with the pieces.

“We have international visitors from all over the world, from Korea, and China and Russia. But also people from County Durham that don’t usually come into the city having the chance to see it in a different light."

Lumiere continues until Sunday and is on from 4.30pm to 11.30pm each night.

  • Don't miss Tuesday's Northern Echo for a special Lumiere souvenir pull-out.