Hull will be bathed a white winter glow as it welcomes residents and visitors into the city centre during the festive season.
From next week, beautiful new white LED lights will be unveiled across the city centre, providing 360 degrees of illumination to King Edward Street, Whitefriargate, Ferensway, Prospect Street and Jameson Street.
To celebrate the switch on of the lights on Thursday 23 November, visitors will be invited to step into an atmospheric winter landscape for an evening of magical entertainment in city centre streets.
From 5pm, this new-look celebration to mark the start of the winter season in Hull will flood the streets around Queen Victoria Square, offering street entertainment, giveaways and surprises along the way.
To accompany the winter theme, a bespoke soundtrack composed by local musician and sound artist Jez riley French will resonate throughout the evening, with a crescendo at the moment the lights are switched from the City Hall balcony. Jez riley French is known for evocative soundscapes that capture natural sound and has contributed to a number of projects as part of Hull’s City of Culture year, including The Height of the Reeds, commissioned by Opera North for the Humber Bridge and John Grant’s North Atlantic Flux.
At 6.30pm, the Lord Mayor of Kingston upon Hull and Admiral of the Humber, Councillor John Hewitt, will be joined by Daniel Carter, aged 6 from Bransholme, outside the Ferens Art Gallery to officially switch-on the lights and start the festive season.
To join in the celebrations 50 of the city’s much-loved UK City of Culture volunteers will be on the Hull City Hall balcony, triggering an explosion of white across Queen Victoria Square.
As the city lights up, a spectacular firework display will launch over Queen Victoria Square.
Councillor Terry Geraghty, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Tourism and Chair of Hull Culture & Leisure Limited, said: “This year we return to Queen Victoria Square and our newly improved city centre streets. Visitors will see something a little different, with a new-look event that will offer lots of opportunities to interact with fantastic street entertainment.
“Our 2017 volunteers are a credit to the city and will be celebrated by assisting with the switch on the lights. I know the residents of Hull will join us in thanking them for their amazing contribution our year in the spotlight.
“This night will open the festive season in real style and I hope everyone will all join in the excitement. We are all in for a real treat.”
Nayan Kulkarni, the artist who presented ‘Blade’ to the world at the beginning of Hull’s year as UK City of Culture, has also been specially commissioned to bring a star-themed lighting scheme into Queen Victoria Square with Hull City Hall, Ferens Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum all decorated in light. Kulkarni is also working on permanent artistic lighting as part of Hull City Council’s UK City of Culture legacy programme, to be unveiled early in the New Year.
The Rose Bowl in Queens Gardens will once again feature four huge seven metre decorated Sitka Spruce trees which will provide a great focal point, partly sponsored by the Yorkshire Forestry Commission. The Commission have also donated a number of smaller trees that will adorn the security blocks around Queen Victoria Square.
From 1 December, people heading to see the festive lighting will also be able to see another major art installation commissioned by Hull UK City of Culture 2017. ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ created by the award-winning Jason Bruges Studio, who are known around the world for their manipulation of light, will use light, robotics and sound to create a unique immersive experience in Hull’s Old Town.
‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ runs until 7 January 2018. Also in December, Hull 2017 has commissioned two other installations: ‘A Colossal Wave!’ which features virtual reality (1-10 December), and an extraordinary series of images created by artists Heinrich and Palmer, which are being projected onto the façade of The Deep (8-10 December).
Martin Green, Director of Hull 2017, said: “As we head towards 2018, following an incredible year for Hull, there is a lot to see and do during the festive season, from traditional treats to world-class art. Whether you are looking for a panto, or seeking an immersive experience, there should be something for everyone to enjoy.”
Many shops will also be open for the kick-off the late night shopping nights leading up to Christmas and the Ferens Art Gallery will be open until 8pm.