ABOUT 165,000 people are thought to have attended Lumiere last week – the lowest festival turnout since 2011.

Almost constant rainfall on three of the four nights of the event, which bills itself as the UK's largest light festival, has been blamed for the lower than expected turnout.

It was down on 2017's record attendance figure of 240,000 visitors and was the first time the event has seen a drop in people attending.

Despite the bad weather, hundreds of thousands people attended to see Durham illuminated by 37 art installations over the four days – with one couple even getting engaged.

This year was Lumiere's 10th anniversary, and saw it welcome its one millionth visitor.

Helen Marriage, artistic director of Artichoke, which produces the festival for Durham County Council, said: “When Artichoke created our first Lumiere festival in Durham in 2009, we never expected that we’d be celebrating its 10th anniversary.

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The 'Spirit' installation at Durham Cathedral

"Over the years, we’ve brought artists from all over the world to transform Durham’s cityscape, including major international figures like Fujiko Nakaya (Japan), Tracy Emin (UK), Pablo Valbuena (Spain) and Rafael Lozano Hemmer (Mexico) presenting them alongside established and emerging artists all working with light.

"Thousands of local people have been involved in Lumiere projects during this decade and our community involvement is set to grow further with dedicated work in the 'off' years as well.

"It is a wonderful partnership, with Durham County Council, with local businesses and institutions that support the festival and just as importantly, with the people of Durham themselves.”

This year's event saw a mix of new and returning installations, several interactive pieces and a community programme which produced three artworks and involved more than 1,000 people.

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Keys of Light at Rushyford Court

During the festival, about 150 local musicians helped to entertain by playing the piano at Keys of Light, which saw each note played generating a light projection on the facade of Rushyford Court, a block of student accommodation on the old County Hospital site.

At the same installation, one couple was inspired to get engaged.

Terry Collins, the council's chief executive, said: “This year, the tenth anniversary of Lumiere, has once again provided us with an unforgettable programme of installations which have lit up Durham in a truly magical way, attracting international acclaim and receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback.

"Over the last decade, Lumiere has brought huge benefits to County Durham’s communities and economy, and given thousands of local people the opportunity to engage with art.

"I’d like to thank our friends at Artichoke, our partners, sponsors, businesses, residents, staff, emergency services and the volunteers who, despite the rain, made Lumiere 2019 such an incredible experience, and I look forward to its return in 2021.”

The council, which spent £800,000 on this year's Lumiere, has agreed to provide the same sum to the 2021 event.