Festival lights up The World in Oxford this November

  |  Published: Oct 11th 2017

Much anticipation awaits the ever-popular Oxford Christmas Light Festival (17th – 19th November) that launches the festive season in Oxford. This year’s theme celebrates the diversity, history and connections of this historic city. The World in Oxford presents an extraordinary collection of illuminated and interactive installations in and around old and new buildings and public spaces – all free to visit and explore.

Key locations for the 2017 festival include the newly opened Westgate Oxford, the festival’s headline sponsor. Their enthusiasm for the event has resulted in some exciting installations being located around the retail centre.

Discover Memoryphones throughout the city and at the Westgate, creating a sound trail of tales from the Museum of Oxford’s ‘My Journey to Oxford’ project about travels from different parts of the world to the city. The Memoryphones were created by artists Dan Fox and Dave Young. Find your way to the rooftop of the Westgate where the Memoryphones will sit alongside a magnificent giant illuminated globe.

Jo Ross, Director of Oxford Contemporary Music says: “Some very special Oxford people will have their stories shared and heard by thousands of other Oxford residents through the Memoryphones. Look out for the curious gramophone shaped machines and don’t be afraid to stick your head inside for the full experience.” 

In the Westgate’s grand plaza of Leiden Square is Wheels of Industry created by artist Stu Langley. Three Robin Reliant cars with stained glass windows featuring iconic British images are lit from the inside by public pedal power. Slip across to Oxford Castle Quarter and you can see the steel balls of Travelling Light Circus’ Pendulum Wave Machine swing in and out of a mesmerising sinuous harmony.

Students from City of Oxford College are closely involved in the festival and will be working with an artist to create a series of wayfinding signs to help the public travel between the festival hubs of Oxford Castle Quarter, Westgate Oxford, Gloucester Green and Broad Street.

As ever the festival is kicked off by over 400 young people from schools and community groups on Friday evening in the spectacular lantern parade. This year’s theme is taken from international stories and writers. Designer Paul Batten is running workshops with schools and groups, some writing their own stories on ‘flying’ books with others making giant story characters from around the world. They will be accompanied through the city by the brass band Mr Wilson’s Second Liners who, on reaching Westgate Oxford, will be joined by other bands for a rousing, multi-storey finale.

Broad Street’s Festive Market will open a day earlier this year, on Friday afternoon, and continue through the weekend for boutique Christmas shopping. There will be stalls of seasonal treats, winter warming refreshments and festive offerings, plus a one-stop tent from Independent Oxford filled with beautiful gifts, delicious local produce and more.

Friday evening sees Gloucester Green play host to the Christmas Light Festival stage presenting a fantastic programme of youth and community dance from Dancin’ Oxford followed by a musical finale from Mr Wilson’s Second Liners.  On Saturday and Sunday thirty local choirs will be taking part in Sing Christmas in pop-up locations around the city, whilst there will be more live music showcased on the Broad Street stage.

Councillor Dee Sinclair, Board Member for Culture and Communities at Oxford City Council says: “With such a diverse range of activities and art installations to look forward to, and with so many local people getting involved, the Oxford Christmas Light Festival certainly promises to be an event to remember this year. Along with the Westgate Oxford Alliance and Arts Council England, we hope that it will be enjoyed by the city’s residents and visitors alike.”

Throughout the weekend the public will be able to ‘stumble upon’ exciting and unusual sights and sounds as streets and open spaces will be the venues for outdoor performances and installations. Many of Oxford’s cultural venues and organisations are taking part with shows, talks, exhibitions, demonstrations, tours and more. There’s lots for families to enjoy throughout the weekend including make your own lantern sessions at Oxford Castle Quarter.

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