LightPool Festival 2016

A new six-night festival will celebrate Blackpool's unique relationship with light

By Lee Isherwood | 30 September 2016

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Elisa Artesero, Kazimier Productions, Liz West and Steve Messam have been confirmed to participate alongside internationally-renowned artists such as Bob & Roberta Smith and Compagnie Bilbobasso at the inaugural LightPool Festival in Blackpool. Free to attend, the new six-night festival will celebrate Blackpool’s unique relationship with light from Friday 28 October to Wednesday 2 November 2016.


Marking the penultimate weekend of Blackpool Illuminations, the first LightPool Festival will transform the town centre, thanks to support from Arts Council England and Coastal Communities Fund. Encouraging visitors to explore on foot, a spectacular walking route will feature more than 20 art works from local, national and international artists, inspired by Blackpool’s history and linking together its iconic buildings. Each night in St John’s Square, a programme of live performances will wow visitors with light and fire displays from some of the world’s leading performance artists.

Highlights of the first LightPool Festival include:

· Captain Kronos: Return to Planet Earth by Liverpool-based Kazimier Productions with pyro from Walk the Plank. The live spectacle from outer space will launch the festival, with our hero, Captain Kronos, beaming down from his time-traveling spaceship, The Kronos, to complete his mission to spread light and love throughout the galaxy

· Two works by Elisa Artesero. The Manchester-based light and text artist uses installations to address themes of transience, the nature of happiness and hope. Alongside the new commission I Waited near North Pier, visitors can see a new realisation of The Stories Under our Feet (2015) on Victoria Street, an ephemeral light and poem artwork trimming the edges of benches to create moments of contemplation for people walking by or taking a moment to sit.

· Liz West, recent star of the Bristol biennial also Manchester-based, will premiere a commissioned wheel of colour in the iconic dome of the Winter Gardens in partnership with lighting manufacturer and innovator Lumenpulse.

· Blackpool-based light artist Michael Trainor will present Goodbye Coco (2004), a coffin for a fictional clown bedecked with 540 programmed fairground lights, and made precisely to fit the artist himself. Whether it is sad or funny is entirely up to the viewer. Goodbye Coco has never been seen before in public.

All the installations will form an illuminated trail taking visitors on a journey around the town centre to explore the LightPool Festival. A specially designed map will be available to take people on their illuminated adventure ensuring they don’t miss any elements of the Festival.

With £48,000 of additional funding from the Arts Council’s National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts, the festival is the climax of the two year, £2 million LightPool project, funded by the Coastal Communities Fund with partners LeftCoast and Blackpool Council.

Cllr Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council said, “Millions of visits are made to the Lights every year but we are often told people want to see something new and different, this is it. I’m delighted to welcome these internationally renowned artists who will be bringing exciting new light shows to the town centre. We hope that it will encourage visitors to see another side to Blackpool and experience Blackpool Illuminations in a new light.”

Alison Clark, Director North, Arts Council England said, “We are very pleased to support LightPool through our National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme. This festival is a wonderful platform to showcase exciting and unusual work that will delight audiences. Light Festivals are growing in popularity in the UK and Europe, and it’s great to see Blackpool, with its wonderful illuminations history, as part of this growth.”

Coastal Communities Minister Andrew Percy said: “Thanks to £2 million from our Coastal Communities Fund, the festival is one of the star attractions of Blackpool’s growing tourism economy. The LightPool Festival is a fantastic way to celebrate our Great British Coast and I would encourage everyone to visit.”

Alex Rinsler, creative lead for LightPool, said: “Arts festivals turn the everyday into something extraordinary – they create magical spaces where people can come together, share experiences and explore something new. We’re thrilled to be bringing such a range of wonderful artists to Blackpool to reimagine the town with residents and visitors alike.”

LightPool Festival builds on the successes of The LightPool shows on The Blackpool Tower, launched in 2015 and running throughout the 2016 Blackpool Illuminations. Visitors this year are spoilt for choice, with three new 3-D projection shows designed specifically for LightPool. They include Chasing Stars by The Projection Studio, introduced by Tim Peake and based on the pioneering work of European Space Agency, Down the Rabbit Hole by Czech digital art collective The Macula, and Enchanted Blackpool, created by film-maker Cecile Llewelyn-Bowen, using designs by her father Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. All three of the films, along with two popular shows from last year’s LightPool events, will be available to watch for free from the Comedy Carpet several times every night, with extra performances at weekends and over the October half term.

The LightPool programme also includes a fantastic new exhibition at The Grundy Art Gallery – Neon: The Charged Line, which brings together some of the most internationally renowned neon artworks from the 1960s to the present day.

Blackpool has a long history of collaborating with light technologies. Light is synonymous with the town’s history and development since the first eight arc lamps that graced the promenade in 1879 to in excess of the 1,000,000 lamps that now feature in this year’s display. Blackpool Illuminations also has a long history of commissioning artists and collaborating with cultural partners such as the Arts Service and the Grundy Art Gallery; a key partner on Blackpool’s Arts Council England funded Arts Engagement programme.

LightPool Festival 2016:
Artists from the North West to bring Blackpool Illuminations
to life through new celebration of light
Friday 28 October – Wednesday 2 November 2016

For more details on this year’s LightPool, go to
For more information on Blackpool Illuminations, visit
Blackpool Illuminations light up until Sunday 6 November.
All the events will be free to attend and accessible for the whole family.