Lightwaves returns to Salford Quays with a spectacularly immersive Winter light festival

Staged at locations around MediaCity and Salford Quays, Lightwaves Festival invites guests to explore dramatic light trails and art installations.

By Emma Davidson | 29 November 2022

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Now in its 9th year, Lightwaves Festival is takling place from Thursday 1st to Sunday 4th December, lighting up different locations around Salford Quays and MediaCity.  

The free festival runs from 4pm to 10pm each evening and sees visitors enjoy illuminated works from leading artists, both local and national, who bring a variety of thought-provoking pieces. 

Headlining this year’s Lightwaves Festival is an ambitious audio-visual installation, Navvies by Artist Matthew Rosier. This poignant work is presented on water and recognises the role of the labourers who worked in harsh and often lethal conditions in the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal. 

The installation is accompanied by a new orchestral composition, composed by Hayley Suviste and performed by the BBC Philharmonic.

Another installation, Once We Were Water by Manchester studio – idontloveyouanymore, allows visitors to ‘walk’ through the waters of a digitally recreated river which appears to flow over the Detroit Bridge, reacting to the movement of people. 

Studio Vertigo present two playful works at Lightwave;  Our Beating Heart brings the mirror ball to a grand scale with more than 11,000 mirrored tiles slowly rotating as a heart shaped sculpture, illuminating the surrounding space. 

End Over End takes inspiration from the beloved slinky in its giant form, playfully transforming buildings into a virtual playground, adjacent to the hexagonal tower of The Lowry.

An artwork that aims to raise awareness of the consumption of single-use plastics is Garden of the Deep. Artist, Diane Watson, has been working with local schools and community groups, to create a display of 1,000 flowers made from discarded plastic bottles. 

Award-winning pioneers of outdoor art,  Walk the Plank, return to Lightwaves 2022 with Roost – a series of three nature-based fire sculptures which visitors can interact with to experience the MediaCity garden in a new light.  

Lightstream by Flora Litchfield uses sound and colour to transform surroundings, exploring human perceptions through special and audio-visual compositions. The installation draws our focus on water’s energy in the hope of bringing us closer to the nature around us and finding a new sense of harmony with the cityscape.

Taking us from the microscopic to the infinite vastness of the universe, MicroCosmic by Paul Miller in collaboration with the University of Salford, is an immersive installation of video, sound and projection-mapped sculpture. 

Animating the iconic waterways at Salford Quays is Butterfly Cluster by Anne Bennett. Gaze up at a multitude of butterflies in the night sky – an experience both dreamlike and meaningful that everyone can enjoy. 

Visitors are invited to meet NORMAN, the “interactive light and sound installation with attitude” from artist collective, Monomatic. A product of its time, NORMAN’s retro-futurist design reflects the technological aesthetics of the pre-Internet age. 

Connections is an artwork commissioned by Quays Culture in collaboration with RHS Glow festival at RHS Bridgewater, created to connect the two events.  Profile pictures encased in resin cells are illuminated, highlighting our modern-day insatiable need for connection through social media likes and friends.

Kin has been created by Backstage Academy – a collective of second year live visual design and production students.  Using lights and video, it reflects the importance of community and the power it holds amongst the people.  

A permanent artwork at MediaCity, THROUGH No.4 by Liz West consists of a six-metre-long, triangular corridor of light and colour. The walk-through structure encourages visitors to look at their surroundings in a different light. For Lightwaves, additional lighting will turn the multicoloured artwork into a ‘jewel’ in the dark.

Lightwaves Festival is free for visitors to attend and aims to bring light and positivity to the cold, dark evenings. Open to everyone, the artworks are fun, interactive and thought-provoking. 

There are no tickets required to attend, visitors can simply turn up and walk the festival at their own leisure.