LUMIERE, the UK’s biggest light festival, is back for 2015 from Thursday night.

The lights will be switched on across Durham City on 28 installations at 4.30pm, with organisers hoping for the best Lumiere yet.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected over four nights – with the local economy set for a multi-million pound shot in the arm.

Helen Marriage, director of Lumiere producers Artichoke, said: “I’m so excited to put this new Lumiere programme in front of Durham’s discerning audiences.

“This is the fourth time that we’ve brought Lumiere to Durham, and each time we try to innovate and bring new parts of this glorious city into the festival.

“Artists both local and international delight in the opportunities of working with such extraordinary architecture and landscape.”

Lumiere returns to Durham City with style. Mysticéte. Picture: TOM BANKS

Among the installations will be Fujiko Nakaya’s Fogscape #03238, a mysterious and ever-changing fog over the River Wear near Durham Cathedral that evokes the St Cuthbert’s Mist said to have saved the Cathedral from Nazi bombs.

Further up river will be Catherine Garret’s Mysticete, a stunning and intriguing projection of a whale spinning and jumping in the water.

Ross Ashton, who created Crown of Light for previous Lumiere festivals, returns with The World Machine, another projection onto Durham Cathedral, this time involving Durham University professors to tell the history of cosmology and the universe.

Janet Echelman’s 1.26 Durham will put a floating net above the Wear near Milburngate House which can be manipulated by visitors using a web app, Patrice Warrener will light up Old Shire Hall in stunning colour for The Red House, hundreds of people will appear to climb the city’s viaduct for Daniel Canogar’s Asalto Durham and Ed Carter will bring Durham Castle to life as a city on a hill in Fool’s Paradise.

Miguel Chevalier will used the ribbed vault arches of the Cathedral to create a virtual canopy of ever-changing shapes for Complex Meshes.

Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Lumiere commissioners Durham County Council, said: “We look forward to welcoming everyone to our beautiful city and to them seeing it in a whole new light.

“Only Artichoke could arrange a whale in the Wear and bring the history of the universe to life at Durham’s spectacular Cathedral. I am not alone in saying I can’t wait.”

Lumiere was first held in Durham in 2009, then again in 2011. In 2013, the festival attracted 175,000 visitors and brought economic benefits worth £5.8m.

This year’s festival will cost £1.8m, with £1.1m coming from the council and Arts Council England and the rest from sponsors and other supporters.

Around 200 volunteer festival makers will help make the event happen and there are special offers and discounts at shops and restaurants across the city. Many of the installations have been put in place and were tested and previewed on Wednesday night.

The festival runs each night until Sunday from 4.30pm to 11pm. Tickets, all of which have been snapped up, are required to access the central zone before 7.30pm. Organisers are hoping Storm Abigail does not interrupt the event too much.