Illuminating York

2016: 26th – 29th October – 6pm-10pm

This year Illuminating York returns with a series of commissioned artworks throughout the city centre celebrating art, light and design.

I love Illuminating York. To me it marks the start of the winter and starts to make things feel festive.

Jason Bruges Studio – York Minster Installation

Jason Bruges Studio are creating a choreographed light work for York Minster.  This ticketed event offers festival-goers a unique opportunity to experience and explore York Minster by night in an entirely new way.

Jason Bruges Studio are internationally renowned for producing innovative installations, interventions and ground breaking works including the dynamic illumination of The Shard (London) for New Year’s Eve countdown in 2014.  For York Minster they are creating an immersive experience – working as ‘light masons’ they will orchestrate moving beams of light to create new shapes and spaces within the cavernous nave of the Minster.

There is a small charge for entry to York Minster and some Fringe Events, all other installations are free.

Times, tickets and prices here.

There are lots of other events around town including at The Shambles, King’s Square and Clifford’s Tower so a walk around the city during the festival is sure to be fun.

If you prefer to plan your route or book onto a ticketed event click here to see the full programme.

Illuminating York Clifford's Tower
Clifford’s Tower



Illuminating York light show
Illuminating York brightens up the city


This year’s Illuminating York festival runs from Wednesday October 29th to Saturday November 1st.

I’ve been to this festival a few times and each year is different but every time It’s been a nice pick me up now the nights are cold and dark!

The festival uses light, music and art to bring the city of York to life and celebrate York’s history.

This year there are 12 artworks across the city plus a number of supporting events. Some events are ticketed and paid for but others are free.

Hidden Worlds

The main event this year is named Hidden Worlds and will be an animation projected on to the York Crown Court building at The Eye of York.

It tells the story of John Snow, the York Victoria physician who discovered how cholera spread and pioneered the use of anaesthetics.

This part of Illuminating York is ticket only. They are £4 for adults and £3 for children (under fives free) and can be bought in advance from York Theatre Royal. Some tickets are available each evening from the theatre box office or the Eye of York (cash only).

Supporting Events

There are a number of supporting events happening around the city. some of the ones I think sound the most exciting include:

This interactive book at Coppergate Shopping Centre reveals York’s stories. You can even ask the book a question using the hashtag #CodexYork.

Time And Space
At St Helen’s Church a space themed projection will be taking place. The piece by Haydn Robinson will highlight some of York’s famous astronomers.

The Bloody Tour of York
This gruesome tour meets at Constantine’s statue near York Minster at 6pm and 8pm. It costs £5 for adults and £3 for children. Mad Alice takes you on a special candlelit tour of York with tales of plague, beheadings and invasions!

These are only a few of the events going on around town during Illuminating York. To discover more visit the Illuminating York website.

IY14 TRAILER 2 from Illuminating York on Vimeo.

Last Year

Illuminating york 2013
Artist’s Impression of 2013 projections on the Yorkshire Museum in Museum Gardens.

I went in 2013 and although the weather was quite bad and the light shows (which were all based on the offbeat imaginings of Vic Reeves) were a little random, I enjoyed it!

Illuminating York Vic Reeves
Last year Vic Reeves let his imagination run wild!

2014’s festival is set to be bigger and better though with cutting edge technology tunring 11 sites across the city into illuminated artworks.

The theme is Illuminating the Past, Enlightening the Future and concentrates on th 1000 years since King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ of Denmark was named king of England in 1013 and the many communities and cultures which have played a role in the development of York.

The main events this year will take place in Museum Gardens and Clifford’s Tower. In the Museum Gardens, The Storyteller, tells the story of Viking king Eric Bloodaxe whilst at Clifford’s Tower, Triquetra, tells of the three Viking Kings of Denmark who had a great influence of York.

Illuminating York Festival
York Minster flooded with light as past of Illuminating York.

There’s a number of other supporting events which will take place as part of the festival. Sculpture, puppetry and art shows are just some of these.

Other fringe events include some late night shop openings and other events around town. A full list can be seen on the Illuminating York website.

You can download the full programme for Illuminating York here.

Illuminating York 2013
Transforming York’s most beautiful buildings into spectacles of light.

Most of the smaller events are un-ticketed so you can just turn up by the two main events are ticketed and you can either buy tickets in advance from the Illuminating York website or a limited number will available on the nights at The Eye of York or York Theatre Royal Box Office (cash sales only).

A dual entry ticket for both events is £6.