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Your complete guide to the e-Luminate Festival in Cambridge

Barry Badcock - Fitzwilliam Museum during e-Luminate
Barry Badcock - Fitzwilliam Museum during e-Luminate

The e-Luminate Cambridge Festival amazes and delights, with the buildings of the historic city providing the perfect backdrop for a host of top events.

e-Luminate map
e-Luminate map

Taking ‘Play of Light’ as this year’s theme, the festival is set to be a truly unique winter spectacle, with six exceptional nights of dazzling light installations created by local and international artists.

Now in its fifth year, the festival will be at the forefront of art and technology as ephemeral light art installations play with the richness and diversity of the urban landscape, transforming everyday buildings and spaces into something extraordinary and magical for a few short hours.

From Gloria Ronchi and Claudio Benghi’s kaleidoscope of glowing butterflies, encasing coloured and dynamic LEDs that come alive at night along the river bank by Magdalene College, to Alice Turner’s The Cambridge Whale – an anatomical reconstruction of the Museum of Zoology’s iconic finback whale, depicting skeletal and soft tissues as well as fascinating facts about the specimen – all 24 outdoor installations can be found around the city and are free of charge to explore!

Coinciding with the public switch-on of e-Luminate Cambridge Festival on Friday, February 10, a night market will host local arts and crafts, live entertainment and food stalls in Market Square.

And that’s not all. New for 2017’s festival are three special events at the Corn Exchange and Guildhall. Tickets for each are available from cambridgelivetickets.co.uk or 01223 357851. Here’s our guide to what’s happening each day, and the installations themselves.


Friday, February 10, 8pm, Corn Exchange

e-Luminate Cambridge Festival opening event: Dark & Light

Celebrate the opening of the festival with a special event featuring performances from Dark Room – a multi-sensory journey through darkness to the light, performed by New York dancer Giorgia Bova with jazz pianist Andrea Manzoni and Cambridge’s ground-breaking musical collective We Are Sound, using voices and instruments to get under the skin of some of the world’s best tracks.

Tickets: £20

Saturday, February 11 and Sunday, February 12

Trail of Light

A unique way to experience the architecture of the college chapels, their beautiful organs and sublime choirs in a most unusual light. Participants will be given their own LED lantern and, by walking from one venue to the next, will become a moving light art installation.

Saturday, February 11

Corpus Christi Porter’s Lodge 5pm (arrive at 4.30pm)

Discover the beauty of three college chapels: Corpus Christi, Peterhouse and Pembroke College.

Tickets: £15 (reductions £12) from eluminatecambridge.co.uk.

Sunday, February 12

St John’s College Forecourt, Porter’s Lodge 4.20pm (arrive at 4pm)

Discover the beauty of three chapels at St John’s College, Magdalene College and St Giles Church.

Tickets: £15 (reductions £12) from eluminatecambridge.co.uk.

Sunday, February 12, Guildhall’s

Hologram and Light Painting Workshops

Turn an object into a one-of-a-kind, laser-produced hologram in a ‘Make Your Own Hologram’ workshop, a practical event combining physics, art and chemistry. Then get creative with your camera in the ‘Light Painting’ workshop, a great introduction to photography, using light to paint stunning effects.

Tickets: £35 (hologram), £20 (light painting).

Monday, February 13

Cambridge Corn Exchange 12.30pm-8pm

Cambridge Guildhall 10am-6pm

Play of Light – a day of five sessions exploring creativity, games, innovation, play and light!

e-Luminate Cambridge and co-curator Pat Kane have brought together an amazing collection of writers, performers, artists, academics, gamers and scientists for this special one-off event. Tickets are available to attend all or individual sessions.

Mr Kane is not only familiar to a few who remember him as one half of 1980s pop duo Hue and Cry, but he’s also the author of The Play Ethic, a book, website and research project where the theory of play is valued and explored. And you are invited to be a ‘player’ at this utterly playful event!

Microsoft’s Helene Steiner will report from the boundary between technology and nature, where inert materials shimmer with information and plants talk to us through light.

Power up and get in on the action at Cambridge’s first eSports Day. Hugely popular throughout Asia and the USA, crowds enjoy watching computer game players compete against each other on platforms old and new. Whether spectator or player, experts will show people the ropes and big audio-visual displays will help spectators to enjoy the action

The afternoon session covers biology, art, education and literature. Artist Tine Bech will reveal the profound and playful way she uses light in her practice, while Cambridge educationalists Pam Burnard and David Whitebread will lay out their latest findings on the essential power of play.

The evening session looks set to be hugely entertaining – with a big-name line-up of natural born players in novels, magic and comedy.

Curator Pat Kane will host Nick Hornby, writer of Fever Pitch and About A Boy, conceptual magician Stuart Nolan and comedian and BBC Radio 4 show The Infinite Monkey Cage co-presenter Robin Ince, who will be exploring the light-bulb joke!

Festival director Alessandra Caggiano said: “I am particularly excited about the theme of ‘Play of Light’ as it allows us to shine a light on two very important aspects of Cambridge which we had not fully engaged with in previous years: gaming and sports. Be prepared to have serious fun at e-Luminate!”

Wednesday, February 15, 6pm and 8pm, e-Luminate Wine Tasting event at The Olive Grove

A delightful evening of discovery with a fun experiment to prove whether lighting conditions influence our perception of wine. Taste a variety of Greek wines and see if changing the lighting alters the experience of them. Enjoy sampling the delicious food at The Olive Grove and learn more about the beautiful wines served. Sommelier for the evening is Matthew Boucher from Thirsty Cambridge in Chesterton Road.

Bouygues e-Luminate Festival Cambridge guided tours

Friday, February 10-Wednesday February 15. Various times. Depart from Cambridge Guildhall

Enjoy a very special walking tour with Visit Cambridge, learning about some of the historic sites while they are lit so beautifully and details about the artists.

Tickets: £15 (£12) from visitcambridge.org. Key Installations

1. The Colours of the Rainbow

Shire Hall, Castle Hill

The rainbow as a symbol of equality and diversity to mark LGBT History Month.

2. Paradeigma, St Peter’s Church, Castle Hill

Created by Arup Light Lab and Cooledge.

Cooledge and Arup team up to create a shadow box of contrasts.

3. Victorian Gifs and Optical Magic, Museum of Cambridge

Created by Oblique Arts.

Using artefacts from the museum collection, including the zoetrope, Oblique Arts artists will project a showreel of images carefully cut together and mapped onto the building.

4. On the Wings of Freedom,

Magdalene College, river bank facing Quayside

Created by Gloria Ronchi and Claudio Benghi.

A kaleidoscope of glowing butterflies, encasing coloured and dynamic LEDs that come alive at night, creating an interactive and immersive experience.

5. Catch Me Now, Quayside

Created by Tine Bech.

Interactive light installation that entices audiences into a merry dance of catch.

6. Vertex, All Saints Gardens, Trinity Street

Created by Ithaca.

Touch the railings and make the garden glow. Vertex is an innovative interactive installation drawing on the childhood desire to playfully engage with our surroundings in a tactile way.

7. Venn in Light, Gonville and Caius College, Trinity Street

Created by Rob Mills.

A tribute to the mathematical work by John Venn in his former college. This installation plays with colour and light to show off his classic diagram.

8. Play, Great St Mary’s Church, Senate House Hill

Created by James Bawn.

Engage with the 15th-century structural features of the building using a play of light. Members of the public can take part in this illumination by taking control of several large lighting fixtures and creating their own patterns using modern game controllers based around the perimeter.

9. SPIRITUS – Light and Darkness, Senate House

Created by Ross Ashton and Karen Monid.

This show is based on the work of Robert Grosseteste, a 13th-century statesman, scholastic philosopher, theologian, scientist and Bishop of Lincoln who wrote some of the West’s earliest ‘scientific’ works and was an original thinker.

10. Fleeting Image (mobile installation - check eluminate cambridge.co.uk for details)

Created by Susie Olczak and Ian Wolter.

Ian and Susie have collaborated to create an interactive optical device – a geometric camera obscura that can be used as the festival camera.

11. King’s College installation,

King’s Parade

Check eluminatecambridge.co.uk.

12. Stream of Light, The Guildhall

Created by Colin Ball.

Dynamic. Vibrant. Playful. BDP Lighting create an exciting facade installation that incorporates a blend of art, light and technology to transform the venue and create a memorable public experience.

13. Liter of Light, Market Square, Peas Hill

Created by Mick Stephenson.

This three-layered, majestic pyramid is a light art installation and a conceptual piece. It beautifully represents the work of the Liter of Light charity, whilst challenging the observer to reflect on inequality and light poverty.

14. Eclipse, Aromi, Bene’t St

Created by Chris Wood.

A large, suspended, dichroic disc transforms the colour of the light it encounters, painting wherever it lands in pools of changing colour. These colours continually change as the disc slowly rotates.

15. Upon Reflection, Corn Exchange, Wheeler Street

Created by Colin Dewar.

Things are not quite as they seem.The reality is only revealed if a picture is taken using a flash.

16. Cosmic Radiophone, Corn Exchange

Created by Phil Arnold and Robin McGinley.

An illuminated instrument offering visitors the opportunity to play the sound of the Big Bang.

17. Emissive Conveyance, Corn Exchange

Created by Abi Spendlove.

Infrared video captures the artist walking the route from the current headquarters of Cambridge Assessment to its new HQ at the ‘Triangle’ site, touching the street surfaces as she walks, running her hand along walls and railings in a childlike, playful movement.

18. (U.C.L.E.S), Corn Exchange

Created by Eleanor Osmond.

Exploring the language and authority of exam papers, an industrial scrolling LED display (U.C.L.E.S) asks the viewer a constant stream of questions, taken from archival examination material from the Cambridge Assessment Group Archive.

19. On Screen, Corn Exchange

Created by Henry Driver.

Questioning the intense levels of spectatorship and CCTV surveillance in everyday life, live interactive video of the audience is displayed throughout the space, responding to the audience’s movements and actions.

20. The Cambridge Whale, David Attenborough Building, Pembroke Street

Created by Alice Turner.

An anatomical reconstruction of the Museum of Zoology’s iconic finback whale specimen, depicting skeletal and soft tissues as well as fascinating facts.

21. The View from Here, Parkside

Created by Ian Wolter

A large, kinetic light-work and performance sculpture which is human ‘powered’. It creaks and whirs as it turns and appears to have been made from found objects: parts of bicycles, boats, ladders etc. The sun, planets and moon are illuminated beach balls.

22. Reading Lines, University Library, West Road

Created by Gino Malocca.

A laser projection piece exploring the architecture of the iconic University Library tower. The animated laser lines will ‘snake’ across the surface of the tower in a variety of colours – red, blue, green, cyan, magenta and yellow – following the key architectural features of the structure.

23. First Light, The Marshall Building, Marshall Airport

Created by Simon Fisher and Malgosia Benham.

One of the country’s original airport buildings, dating back to an era when air travel was glamorous. Lighting rays depict a dynamic lighting effect above the entrance, and the three main windows above the main entrance are illuminated using red, white and blue lights, to symbolise the RAF roundel colours and to represent Marshall’s strong ties with the RAF throughout its history. The artwork title is inspired by the film that tells the story of an RAF pilot joining the forces and flying a Spitfire plane.

24. The Bouygues UK Triangle Light, The Triangle, Cambridge Assessment, Shaftesbury Road

Built by Bouygues UK.

The Triangle is Cambridge Assessment’s new HQ. Its iconic tower will be illuminated during the six nights of Bouygues UK e-Luminate Cambridge for the very first time.

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