THE lights went out on Lumiere last night as the tenth anniversary festival was hailed as the best yet.

Constant rainfall through all four days of the light show affected numbers attending but failed to dampen enthusiasm for the imaginative installations dotted around Durham.

Production company Artichoke pledged the city’s sixth biennial light spectacular would be the most ambitious to date, combining new commissions and designs with a sprinkling of old favourites, billed as ‘festival flashbacks’.

Awestruck, but rain-soaked Lumiere-goers, both locals and visitors from afar, seemed to agree.

Thirty-seven installations were spread across the city, with, as ever, most centred on the historic cathedral and castle peninsula, but some of the most eye-catching were to be found further afield, one or two in unlikely locations.

Festival director Helen Marriage said: “It’s been an amazing experience and I really believe the programme has been the best yet.

“People seemed to enjoy the wide spread of it, going up to the botanical gardens, or the viaduct area, making use of the whole festival footprint.

“It worked really well.

“The weather has been a huge factor and the numbers appear to have been slightly down compared to previous years when the weather was much kinder.

“We’ll wait for the global figure. I would say Thursday and Friday were definitely down, and that’s down to the weather, but Saturday was as busy as ever.

“It’s interesting, we don’t want it to be too windy for obvious reasons, we don’t want to it be too wet because of the cobbles, and we don’t want it to be too cold.”

Some of the visitor response she has received suggested the wet weather made several installations even more atmospheric.

“Sitting in this rain and mizzle, you can see that it’s maybe good for this one and not so good for others, and certainly not so good on the slippery cobbles.”

But she said the feedback as to the quality of the commissions has been excellent.

“There are now light festivals all over the country, but this is definitely the biggest and most technically complicated.”

She said the decision to bring back some popular displays from past editions of Lumiere has been met with a mixed reaction.

“The response to bringing things back contrasts from very favourable from some people to others saying they’ve seen that before and they want to see something new.”

Opinion as to the best of the light displays also seemed to vary but the installation across the Rushford Court building, on the Old County Hospital site, earned good reviews, while the slinkies, titled End Over End, at Milburngate, and former favourite, Mysticete, the baleen whale, in a new location in the River Wear, near Pennyferry Bridge, were both equally popular.

Terry Collins, Durham County Council chief executive, which commissioned the festival, said: “It’s a fabulous event. There’s an amazing buzz about the city.

“Seeing everyone around Durham enjoying themselves is marvellous.

“There seems to be a common feeling that it’s fantastic having Lumiere back.

“It’s an outdoor festival in November, in the North-East. You aren’t going to get a tan.

“But, people get wrapped up, they know how to cope with the weather in the North-East, and enjoy the spectacle.

“We have something everyone else would like. Over the four days, it’s the biggest event in the country.”

The last Lumiere attracted about 240,00 people to Durham, bringing an estimated £7.5m to the local and regional economy.

Final figures should be confirmed for this year’s light spectacular should be