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A brilliant new lights trails in Scarborough this December

See colourful floating water lillies from Budapest-based Koros Design. Koros Design
See colourful floating water lillies from Budapest-based Koros Design. Koros Design

Scarborough Lights is the first part of a new year-round festival called The Scarborough Fair. It will bring light to every part of the town during the dark winter evenings, with artwork from international artists sitting alongside community projects.

Highlights will include the Peasholm Park Winter Lights Trail, bringing inspiring creations from major international names to one of the country’s favourite parks until 22 December. They’ll include colourful floating water lillies from Budapest-based Koros Design; a shimmering sunset from the studio of ‘light, space and magic’ artist Jon Armstrong, and a spectacular LED-powered bonfire from Dutch collective Vendel & de Wolf.

'We’ve worked closely on this part of the project with creative consultant Bastiaan Schoof, who’s a veteran of similar events in the Netherlands, including the Amsterdam and Utrecht light festivals,' says The Scarborough Fair festival director, Julian Caddy.

Great British Life: Julian Caddy, The Scarborough Fair Festival Director photographed in Peasholm Park where many of the light displays will be based. (c) Tony Bartholomew Julian Caddy, The Scarborough Fair Festival Director photographed in Peasholm Park where many of the light displays will be based. (c) Tony Bartholomew

'It’s his contacts that have enabled us to attract artists of this calibre, and I can’t begin to tell you just how spectacular it’s going to be.'

Another name in Schoof’s little black book is that of Flemish light artist Peter Snijder: his world premiere of his striking new piece, The Fading Light of Ruins, at Scarborough’s parish church St Mary’s, which sits in the lee of the castle, runs until November 30.

Throughout December, 24 individual streets will be taking part in a town-wide Advent Calendar, with residents and businesses enjoying creative workshops led by local artists before decorating and lighting up their windows on an allocated date.

In the town centre, local graphic designer Adrian Riley is creating Signs of the Times, a trail of illuminated text artworks celebrating some of Scarborough’s uncelebrated or forgotten places, inspired by local stories and visually prompted by the town’s heritage of illuminated signs.

Great British Life: The town will be filled with light exhibits during December. (c) Peter SnijderThe town will be filled with light exhibits during December. (c) Peter Snijder

Meanwhile, at Scarborough Railway Station, another local artist, Paul Elsam, is presenting Drift-Lit – sculptures made from driftwood found on local beaches that has been dried, cleaned, restored and dramatically lit to create beautiful light installations.

'And I would say probably every single person who comes to Scarborough in December will go through the LED light tunnel in the town centre – that will be the most visited landmark, a real magnet!'says Julian

Some favourite local landmarks are taking part, too, with the exteriors of the Rotunda museum, the Spa complex, Scarborough Castle, the Town Hall, and St Mary’s dramatically lit throughout the Lights Festival. Even the boats in the harbour will join in, their illuminations reflecting in the water to complement a new light installation at the famous lighthouse.

And the popular art installation Grue – a fantastical world created from positive energy and discarded paper – returns for the third Christmas, this year wrapped into the Scarborough Lights family and relocated to the town’s Library.

Great British Life: Marvel at the spectacular LED-powered bonfire from Dutch collective Vendel & de Wolf. (c) Vendel de Wolf installations Marvel at the spectacular LED-powered bonfire from Dutch collective Vendel & de Wolf. (c) Vendel de Wolf installations

A highly respected cultural leader – his most recent gig was a 12-year stint as executive director of England’s largest arts festival, the Brighton Fringe – Julian Caddy lights up with enthusiasm when he talks about the project.

'From the outset, I’ve started from the perspective of what Scarborough and Scarborians are doing, what they’d like to see, and what they miss, and tried to build on that to make The Scarborough Fair sustainable,' he says.

'There’s been funding from central government to help make all this happen for the next three years, but there’s no point doing all this if it only lasts for three years. There needs to be some sort of legacy for the town, for the region – and nationally and internationally, too.

'At the core of it is the community aspect – we want to bring in as many local people as we can to make it feel like it’s designed by, and inspired by, the town. The exhibition at St Mary’s Church, for instance: we brought in a light designer who specialises in art installation in churches, and he initially had a different piece in mind. But when he saw St Mary’s, he was so taken by it, he created a brand new piece, a world premiere, around its history and architecture and the contradictions around the building – it’s a place of peace, but also a place whose very fabric has been impacted by war.

Great British Life: Scarborough Lights is the first part of a new year-round festival called The Scarborough Fair. (c) Koros DesignScarborough Lights is the first part of a new year-round festival called The Scarborough Fair. (c) Koros Design

'And Peasholm Park – one of the reasons we’ve chosen that for the light trail is that nearly every meeting I’ve had, people have talked to me about how much they loved the Tree Walk [an illuminated trail on the park’s island which enchanted generations of Scarborians for nearly 40 years from the early 1950s]. The new light trail will be extended into the Glen, and will be beautiful and magical – an extraordinary experience.'

Scarborough Lights can be seen until Christmas, with over 60 individual light installations at 14 locations across the town, most of them free. Visit scarboroughfair.uk to find out more.

And for more information on what else is on across the Yorkshire Coast #placeofsurprise and the North York Moors this month, please visit discoveryorkshirecoast.com



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