MORE than 300 eco-friendly solar-powered lanterns suspended by ultraviolet string above Broadgate are the focal point of Coventry city centre’s Christmas lights this year.
Creatmosphere, an award-winning light studio based in London and Lyon in France, was commissioned to make the festive outdoor art installation with local residents.
‘What lights you up?’ was the inspiration at nine creative design workshops, with organisations including Grapevine, Carriers of Hope and Men Shed.
This theatrical display of multi-coloured decorated solar lanterns criss-crossed across the square is set to be switched on tonight Wednesday, November 20.
The commission for the lantern installation came from Coventry City of Culture Trust, working with Coventry City Council and Coventry BID, and follows on from the Diwali-inspired Carnival of Lights parade from Foleshill to Broadgate earlier this month.
Chenine Bhathena, creative director of Coventry City of Culture Trust, said: “This new lighting installation is an example of the fantastic artistic projects we can create with the people of Coventry.
“Residents who created these beautiful lanterns were tasked to think of something that made them happy. It’s going to be great to see all of these beacons of goodwill hanging above Broadgate.
“Christmas is a time for peace, love and hope. We’re delighted to have supported communities to create this unique festive installation.”
The annual Christmas switch-on event, between 5pm and 8pm, features an evening of family-friendly music and dance, visual light projections and a towering real Christmas tree, as part of the #YuleLoveCov Christmas programme.
Highlights include the highly visual HALO Glow Show featuring glowing super-bright LED hula hoops and juggling clubs performed by four circus artists, stars of the Belgrade Theatre’s panto Puss In Boots, The Voice contestant Tom Barnwell and an appearance by Santa.
This year’s line-up of free live events starts at 5pm with a stage show, presented by JD and producer Paul from Free Radio.
The local radio DJ duo will be introducing Coventry Young Ambassadors Choir made up of 340 children from 30 city primary schools; Freeman Dance; singer-songwriter Josh Hale, winner of the Godiva Calling 2018, and pupils from Sacred Heart Catholic School in Coventry, showing off their moves ahead of competing in the Great Big Dance Off next spring.
Other performers include Ernesford Grange school choir, singer/songwriter Abz Winter, Strictly Christmas, Coventry City Council Choir and University Hospital Voice Squad.
A major light projection show will lead up to the official Christmas lights switch on at around 7.40pm.
In a bid to attract residents to join in the festivities and the start of late-night shopping, the council is offering free car parking after 3pm at city centre car parks and on all subsequent late-night Wednesday shopping evenings.
Andy Williams, Director of Business Investment and Culture at Coventry City Council, said: “Our ambition this year is to bring something unique and different to Coventry and with our event partners in the UK City of Culture 2021 and Coventry BID teams, we think it’ll certainly grab people’s attention! We are delighted to be able to present unique artistic commissions as part of the event, to bring a fresh look to the start of Christmas in Coventry.
“I am looking forward to seeing as many people as possible come together to enjoy what will be a fun event for all the family, followed by an opportunity for some seasonal shopping.”
Trish Willetts, Coventry BID Manager and Director, said: “It’s fantastic to see this project come to life and bring an additional element of festive cheer to the Christmas lights this year.
“We are proud to play a part in the magic and look forward to getting everyone in to the spirit of the season with our beautiful Christmas trees, as well as the various events that are running in the city throughout December. Keep an eye on the City Centre Facebook page for all the exciting #YuleLoveCov details.”
Coventry City of Culture Trust is encouraging anyone who attends to post images, video and messages on social media using the hashtag: #BroughtToLight