Love Light festival celebrates ‘belonging’ in Norwich

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French troubadours Picto Facto bring the Love Light festival parade to Norwich's Forum building

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“People are experiencing city centres in a different way now, peoples’ shopping habits have changed, we’re making more journeys in the evening now,” said Love Light festival director Alex Rinsler

A festival of light involving giant installations, fire performances and a parade of dogs in illuminated costumes hopes to help fight loneliness and celebrate love.

Love Light features 30 pieces of public art and attracted large crowds in Norwich city centre on Friday night.

The event was due to take place across the weekend but Saturday’s outdoor events have been cancelled due to the forecast of Storm Dennis’s high winds,

The festival is produced by the Norwich Business Improvement District (BID).

Halo | illumaphnium by artist Michael David in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral

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Halo, by interactive artist Michael David, features 12 sculptural towers of glowing rings that create music to “transform the entire feeling of a space”

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Caroline Bidewell, from the team, hoped the festival’s theme of “love and belonging” would “bring people closer together”.

The festival features a number of international light artists who have created a range of giant installations projected on and around many of the city’s historic buildings.

Love Light festival makes its way through Norwich city centre

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Picto Facto led a parade through the centre of Norwich as part of the festival designed to celebrate “what makes us different and what brings us together”

The festival is working in collaboration with the Norwich Together initiative which aims to tackle loneliness.

During Friday night’s parade, “chatty volunteers” waited along the route of the light trail to strike up conversation with attendees, in an effort to make everyone feel welcome and included.

Alex Rinsler, project creative director, said: “The objective is not to replace the Valentine’s experience… but small [social] things can make a difference.

“If it works, wonderful. If it doesn’t work, at least we tried it. I think that all towns and cities are struggling with social inclusion.”

Dog owners created illuminated costumes for their four-legged friends

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The parade included the LumiDogs finale featuring light-based costumes for Norwich’s four-legged friends

Fireworks launched from the roof of The Forum in Norwich

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The festival parade culminated at The Forum in Norwich where fireworks were released from the roof of the building in what is believed to be “a first”

Love Always Wins projection on Norwich Cathedral

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“What makes this different is the uniqueness of Norwich as a place… a light festival that’s celebrating the city’s unique architecture,” Rinsler said

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Nick Azidis, a lighting designer from New Zealand, has created a projection of colours and designs for the city’s Anglican cathedral.

He said: “It’s the size, it’s the history, it’s the space… it’s an amazing building. To light it up and to give it some new light – it’s fantastic.”

Amor performed by Bilbobasso street fire theatre

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The festival parade culminated with a performance of fire street theatre by French artists Bilbobasso with an “explosive satire on married life”

Bilbobasso perform Amor in Norwich

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“It was such a wonderful team to look at a theme of love and belonging… it was a group collective,” said Rinsler

Love Light is financed by Norwich BID and co-funded by Arts Council England with the addition of local sponsorship. Organisers hope it will become a bi-annual event.

Photography by Martin Barber and Shaun Whitmore

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