Lumiere returns to Durham in November, promising a festival of lights and light installations like never before.

In charge of bringing this amazing event to Durham is an organisation called Artichoke, masters extraordinary and ambitious public art in cities, the countryside and on coastlines around the UK.

Here we meet some of the team involved in bringing the light show to the North-East.

Do you have a great story or memory from visiting Lumiere? If so, please email it to and we might feature it in the countdown to Lumiere.

Phoebe, development coordinator at Artichoke, talks business clubs and parties. Phoebe joined Artichoke’s Administration team three years ago, before moving into development to focus on fundraising.

The Northern Echo: Phoebe, development coordinator at ArtichokePhoebe, development coordinator at Artichoke

“I work with businesses that want to support Lumiere, including managing our new Lumiere Business Club.

“The Business Club is a new initiative that allows companies to financially support the festival in an accessible way and gain some great benefits in return. The last year has been a challenge for a lot of businesses, but the support in Durham is amazing. It’s so encouraging talking to small businesses that want to help bring the festival back.

“I grew up in the Durham City, but live in London now, so working on Lumiere always makes me nostalgic. Walking through Durham at Lumiere 2019 and seeing people playing on musical see-saws (Wave-Field Variation H) and holding up shapes to create a kaleidoscopic projection (Human Tiles) was magical.

The Northern Echo: The musical see-saws in 2019The musical see-saws in 2019

“It’s the public interacting with the art that really makes it all come alive.

“Throughout the festival we’re in contact with the sponsors, making sure they’ve been able to see the artworks they support. We also put on a lot of fundraising events.

“It can be a real challenge co-ordinating within the team when everybody is out at different venues, or on site.

Lumiere's County Durham landmark projects bringing whole communities together

“Sometimes you have to run across to the other side of Durham to help each other out.

“Lumiere is such a huge project and everybody in the team pulls together to make it happen. You really see how much everyone wants it to be a success.”

To find out more about the Lumiere Business Club, you can contact Phoebe at or on 0207-650-7611

The Northern Echo: Maeve joined in 2019Maeve joined in 2019

Maeve, production coordinator at Artichoke, talks about marriage proposals and the advantages of being a Northerner at Lumiere. Maeve joined Artichoke as production intern for the tenth anniversary edition of Lumiere in 2019.

“I had a few memorable moments whilst working on Keys of Light, which was an interactive light installation displaying stunning projections in response to live piano performances by local people.

“It was lovely to see people really engage with installation, going from the nervousness before their performance to the adrenaline and excitement afterwards. The project definitely gave the participants more confidence as pianists.

“Another great moment was when the youngest Keys of Light participant, who was four years old, and the oldest participant, who was 88, performed at the installation on the same night. It was a pure coincidence that they happened to be there at a similar time, but it was a lovely representation of the wide range of age groups involved.

“Lastly, I saw someone proposing in front the installation. Apparently it’s not the first time that someone has proposed [marriage] in front of a Lumiere artwork.”

The Northern Echo: Bottle FestoonBottle Festoon

“I would say Bottle Festoon was the most impressive transformation at the festival. I’d been working on it with the community from the beginning and when we installed it during the day, we honestly had no idea what it was going to look like in the dark.

“When I finally walked around the festival on my own, honestly, I was taken aback. It was one of the most beautiful moments, because I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so magical. The magic was definitely enhanced by knowing how much work and effort had gone into creating the artworks.”

Maeve also reveals what it is like working as part of the Artichoke team, and said: “Everyone kept warning me about how cold it was in Durham, but because I’m Northern it wasn’t nearly as cold as I thought it was going to be. I brought far more layers with me than I needed. Next time I’ll take into consideration that if you’re Northern, you can probably handle the cold a little bit better than the Southerners.

“Louise, Artichoke’s learning and participation producer, was a great mentor because she drip-fed me the responsibility and then later told me, ‘Maeve, you do realise you are project managing this?’ It meant that I didn’t feel overwhelmed and it was a great way to introduce me to working on this scale.

“I was gently navigated through, while also managing my work independently.

“As intense as it gets during the festival, everyone on the team really supports each other.

“There’s a lot at play and you need to be able to multitask, but that also makes it really exciting and fun. It’s a great way to bond with your team.”

The Northern Echo: Communications manager HarrietCommunications manager Harriet

Harriet, communications manager at Artichoke, shares her memories of visiting Peterlee to interview local people about Apollo 50 project, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Pavilion in Peterlee, and Lift Off. Harriet joined Artichoke two-and-a-half years ago and works closely with businesses and sponsors for Lumiere.

"I visited Peterlee in May 2019 to interview local residents and students from East Durham College and find out what they thought of Apollo 50.

"I remember being blown away with how magnificent the Apollo Pavilion looked on the Sunny Blunts Estate. All the residents I talked to felt that it was important to feel pride in this iconic piece of architecture on their doorsteps, and they were delighted that it had been celebrated through the Apollo 50 and Lift Off projects.

"They talked about how important it is for local young people to experience artworks of this kind, and have the opportunity to see the landscape around them in a new light.

The Northern Echo: Apollo Pavilion in lightsApollo Pavilion in lights

"The Lift Off participants at East Durham College shared with me their feeling that Apollo 50 had brought their community together for a joyful shared experience. Having witnessed the piece changing their familiar environment in such a moving way, they were really excited and proud to be presenting their artwork at Lumiere, even though none of them had ever been to the festival before.

Involving young people in city's spectacular festival of lights

"This showed me that the kind of incredible artworks that Mader Wiermann and other light artists who have presented work at Lumiere produce need no explanation – people experience art on their own terms. It is exciting to imagine what the students who took part in Lift Off and have continued their study of art as a result might go on to create."