Press: Christmas at Cowdray - Lightbulb moments: stately homes switch to festive festoons

Though popular in Europe for decades, the UK is really only just coming round to light festivals and trails, according to Libby Battaglia, artistic director of Light Up Trails, which is running Christmas at Cowdray, an illuminated interactive walk at the Cowdray estate in the South Downs.

She said the UK was “quite behind because we’ve always had a preference for fireworks”, but added: “I think because of the environment, that’s fading away. For example, the French have had a light festival in Lyon since 1852, so they’re ahead in that way, but it is growing. And it’s probably more than likely because it’s so accessible and it appeals to lots of different generations.”

She said British festivals started in northern English cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, and have trickled down south, with audiences more than doubling in just a few years.

Leeds’s Light Night, a free event that happens every October over two evenings, is attended by 150,000 people a year and Manchester Lightopia, a ticketed lantern festival, expects a similar number this year.

On a smaller scale, Battaglia has seen her projects grow dramatically. The Light Up Poole festival she runs has risen from 20,000 visitors to more than 50,000 in a couple of years.

Events usually take a year to plan but shortages of lorry drivers and difficulties bringing equipment from overseas has made the past couple of years a little more difficult, Battaglia said. Last year lighting that was supposed to arrive in October eventually came in February. “But all of our lighting has arrived now for this year, so we are very happy about that.”

She added: “Now we can’t wait for people to come and see.”

Credit: The Guardian - read the full press release here:

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