Dazzling treats in store at cultural highlight

Leeds Civic Hall, a temporary public artwork
Leeds Civic Hall, a temporary public artwork
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Light Night is back in Leeds again. Arts correspondent Nick Ahad reports on the event.

They really have got themselves very organised this time.

Light Night, the now annual event in the cultural calendar of Leeds, is upon us once again. This year the town hall will come alive with light projections, a forest will spring up from the theatre floor at Leeds University, audiences will be able to take a trip into Narnia and people will be able to meet real life mermaids.

This year’s Light Night sees the city split into seven key areas: Millennium Square, Leeds Town Hall, Victoria Gardens, Headrow, Briggate and Boar Lane, Quarry Hill and the University of Leeds. Each area of the city will host a variety of different arts events, casting an entirely new light on the city.

Light Night 2013 is the seventh edition of the city-wide event. Inspired by similar events across Europe which opens up the museums, galleries and arts venues of cities after dark, when they are normally closed to visitors, the idea of Light Night – or Nuit Blanc to give it the title it takes in its country of origin – is to open up a city’s cultural life to all.

Normally events happen across the city, with all manner of venues – arts or otherwise – opening their doors to visitors to experience culture in its widest sense. This year, for the first time, Leeds has a definite centrepiece to the programme.

Momentous is the spectacular transformation of Leeds Civic Hall into a giant traditional clock. Although the ‘clock’ created by Illuminos artists Matt and Rob Vale will be a central part of Light Night, it stole a march on the event by going on show last night, and will remain in place for audiences to enjoy until tomorrow.

Light Night proper, however, features events and exhibitions happening around the city only from around dusk until late tonight.

More than 30 venues hosting more than 50 different events make up this year’s programme. One of those venues is the new Trinity shopping centre, which will play host to a number of events, including a showing of a small section of The Narnia Experience, a new production opening in Leeds this autumn. The organisers have put together a small section of the show to reveal to people at the shopping centre. Audiences will also be able to watch Dancer in a Box, a series of five-minute-long performances staged by various contemporary dancers – in a box in Millennium Square.

In Victoria Gardens, in the city centre, the Great Big Paint will allow people to use a massive digital spray-painting tool – with which they can ‘paint’ art on to the wall of Leeds Art Gallery.

Light Night is not just a fringe event in the city – Leeds’s cultural big-hitters also get involved. Opera North’s brand new immersive Sea Interludes installation is the latest in an interactive series of visual art exhibitions that present classical music in transformed settings. The installation is inspired by the centenary of composer Benjamin Britten, whose operas fill Opera North’s main stage this autumn, and includes Phyllida Lloyd’s acclaimed production of Peter Grimes. This opera’s most famous music, arranged as an orchestral suite: the Four Sea Interludes, has been recorded by the orchestra of Opera North specially for the installation.

Full details of the all the Light Night events is available at www.lightnightleeds.co.uk. All events are free, but some require booking.