179,000 visitors flock to see ‘magical’ Lumiere

The Fire Garden at Lumiere.
The Fire Garden at Lumiere.

Upwards of 179,000 people thronged the streets of Derry over the weekend as Lumiere secured itself as one of the highlights in the City of Culture calendar.

Sunday night alone saw 45,000 people on the streets of Derry as the 17 installations continued to draw impressive crowds from near and far.

The weekend has been hailed a “spectacular success” by organisers Artichoke - who have previously run the Lumiere festival in Durham. Indeed the number of people attending Lumiere in Derry exceeded the thousands who attended the third year of the festival in England.

Artichoke’s co-director Helen Marriage said: “It has been a joy to see the fruit of all the hard work over the last eighteen months. The atmosphere in the city during the festival has been incredible.

“Producing an event with seventeen separate art projects anywhere is an enormous challenge, and all the more so, when no-one quite knows what to expect. I think everyone has been surprised and delighted by the experience of rediscovering the city in this way.”

Ms Marriage said the people of Derry had “embraced Lumiere with open arms”.

“Their response has far exceeded our expectations and we’ve loved every minute of it”.

Culture Company Executive Programmer Graeme Farrow added: “Lumiere worked on every level - it showed the city in the best possible light, it allowed both locals and visitors to see it afresh, and it invited people to take part. I always believed that it could provide the perfect finale to the year and it was everything we hoped for.

“I stood at the top of St. Columb’s Park with my family on Saturday night looking out over all of the fire and that beautiful cityscape and thought ‘Wow, what a place this is!’. As has been the case throughout the year, the people of the city took Lumiere to their hearts and made it extra special.”

The weekend also proved to be fruitful for local businesses - hotels in the city were running at 100% occupancy on Friday and Saturday night.

Flights to and from the city were at a premium or completely sold out, and bars and restaurants were full of customers. Anecdotal evidence suggested that many shops were also busier than usual.

The Mayor of Derry, Colr. Martin Reilly said: “Lumiere has been a spectacular event, the jewel in the crown in a string of successful events in the City of Culture calendar, and one that we will all remember for a very long time.

“Tens of thousands of people of all ages and across all communities have experienced this free public festival together. They have seen our beautiful city transformed into magical space of art and light, and been transformed by the experience.

“I am delighted that we have had the opportunity to showcase the city in this way. Visitors have had the chance to discover our city and locals have been able to see their city in a new light.”