Biennial event Lumiere hit Durham this week (Thursday 16th Nov to Sunday 19th) and the North East went crazy in the lead up. It seemed to sell out almost instantly but we were quick enough to secure a couple of tickets. The event is free but there was a £2 charge for booking.
Last time round I was pregnant with Dinky, so it was a little surreal to be sharing the experience with a toddler this year. Time flies!
Organised by Artichoke and Durham County Council, the event is a stunning display of art installations dotted around the streets of the city. You can buy a programme for £2 or one can be found here. Our paticular favourite was the wow-inducing Dome in the town square.
For those who weren’t lucky enough to get tickets it is still possible to look around the main peninsula after 7:30pm. If you don’t have children this might be the best option and it seemed like many were heading in to the city centre as we were leaving. There are still plenty of installations to look round outside the ticketed area regardless, although I chose to focus on this due to our self-imposed time constraints.
I was praying the rain would stay away as it dampened our spirits back in 2015 (which you can read about here). It was cold, especially as it got later, but thankfully it remained dry. There was definitely a festive feeling in Durham as we walked through the twinkling lights above the cobbled streets. I kept Dinky in the buggy as I was flying solo for the event. Some advise not to because of how busy it can get and with the uneven pavements. I wanted her to enjoy the experience and, rather selfishly, I wanted to as well.
Trying to chase a toddler round would not have been a pleasant experience, especially amongst the crowds. Our buggy has travelled to New York, Berlin, Dublin, Spain and many other places, so don’t think Durham was too much of a stretch! I found the area beside the river to be a little bit difficult to navigate as it wasn’t well lit, but in a way that added to the fun.
The best advice I can give is to take your time and to wrap up warm. I took some snacks along as many restaurants get fully booked in advance during the event. Lumiere is a great opportunity to explore Durham City and to support local businesses while there. We headed in early and used the Park and Ride facilities. It cost just £2 for the car park and a return journey on the easy access buses which transport visitors to the terminal in the city centre.
We didn’t make it around as Dinky decided she’d had enough after a few hours, but we managed to have a decent go. I found the whole experience enjoyable and even queuing didn’t bother me. We chatted to other families as we walked around the installations and there was a lovely atmosphere. The twinkly lights made Durham City feel festive and, with the chill in the air, I can definitely sense Santa’s impending visit. We’ll possibly be heading back later in the week Dinky-free to complete our circuit but, in the meantime enjoy the photos we’ve shared.
Thanks for reading,