It’s renowned not just regionally, but nationally and internationally too. It raises County Durham’s profile across the globe, attracts tens of thousands of visitors and generates millions of pounds in economic impact.

And excitement is building ahead of its November return.

Durham’s Lumiere festival is poised for its eighth coming, and what an event it promises to be.

In a matter of weeks, a spotlight will shine on Durham City, when the nocturnal art trail lets visitors see iconic landmarks and hidden gems in a new light.

The UK’s light art biennial will transform locations including the city’s bustling Market Place, the Durham Cathedral and Castle UNESCO World Heritage site, and the prestigious Durham University campus, from Thursday 16 to Sunday 19 November.

The 2023 Lumiere programme, the most ambitious yet, includes 16 new commissions and seven UK debuts, ranging from local North East artists, schools and communities, as well as global artists prominent in the light art movement.

Indeed proof of Lumiere’s global status and international reach comes with artists from 15 different countries exhibiting their work.

The festival is commissioned and funded by Durham County Council, and produced by leading arts producers Artichoke.

Being home to such a major event cements Durham's position as the 'culture county,' a rightful claim following it being the only county ever to be shortlisted for the UK City of Culture title, a bid spearheaded by the county council and partners last year.

The fact that the festival is free to attend adds to that claim. So too is the fact that as in 2021, the festival is branching out into the wider county. For the first time this year, historic Bishop Auckland town centre will be part of the festival programme, with it providing the setting for four works. ‘Spotlight on Bishop Auckland’ is produced in partnership with The Auckland Project and supported by the Stronger Towns Fund.

Fourteen years after it debuted in Durham, the county council’s continued investment in Lumiere, and the authority’s other key events including Bishop Auckland and Seaham Food Festivals and Durham Brass, is meanwhile testament to its commitment to culture-led regeneration.

The authority is a national leader in using culture to support inclusive growth and as a central pillar in growing the visitor economy. With more than a million people having visited Lumiere since it was first held in 2009, and countless millions spent in the local economy as a direct result of the festivals, this point is without question.

Leader of the council Cllr Amanda Hopgood said: “We are delighted to reveal the long-awaited programme for Lumiere as the commissioners of this international event. This year's programme is an exciting culmination of awe-inspiring work from world-renowned artists and thought-provoking projects created by our communities. We are also extending our reach outside of Durham City into the wider county, with some fantastic pieces to be enjoyed in Bishop Auckland town centre.

"We are committed to creating cultural opportunities within County Durham through our dynamic festivals and events programme. Now the UK’s light art biennial, Lumiere not only attracts thousands of people to our county, bringing with it a boost to our visitor economy across the four days, but it also raises our profile internationally as the culture county."

Lumiere in Durham City runs from 4:30pm to 11pm each night and at Bishop Auckland from 5pm to 10pm. Tickets are only required to enter Durham City centre during peak hours between 4:30pm and 7:30pm. Everyone can enjoy Lumiere across the city without a ticket after this time. Tickets are not required for Bishop Auckland at any time.

For full details of the programme and for further information on how to enjoy the festival, visit