Spotlight on Bishop Auckland Thursday, 26 October 2023

Excitement is building ahead of the return of Durham's Lumiere festival this November, and this year the festival is coming to Bishop Auckland for the first time. 

The UK's light art biennial will transform locations across Durham City and Bishop Auckland from Thursday 16 to Sunday 19 November.

The 2023 Lumiere programme, the most ambitious yet, includes 16 new commissions and seven UK debuts, ranging from local North East artists, schools and communities, as well as global artists prominent in the light art movement from 15 different countries.

The festival is commissioned and funded by Durham County Council, and produced by leading arts producers Artichoke.

For the first time this year, historic Bishop Auckland town centre will be part of the festival programme, with it providing the setting for four works. ‘Spotlight on Bishop Auckland’ is produced in partnership with The Auckland Project and supported by the Stronger Towns Fund.

Auckland Tower and the Spanish Gallery will both be illuminated as part of this year's festival.

Auckland Tower will be remade with The Drop (2023), a beacon of light and sound by internationally renowned, UK lighting designer Phil Supple. Beams, patterns and lights, choreographed to a lively musical score composed by collaborator and sound artist Toby Park, will illuminate the full height of the Tower and can be seen right across town. Park will weave a score threaded with local flavour and heritage that is anchored firmly in Bishop Auckland. The installation builds on The Mill Project, which was awarded Highly Commended at the Lighting Design Awards 2011.

Meanwhile, internationally acclaimed artist, Daniel Canogar will unveil the treasures of the Spanish Gallery to the public gathered in the square outside with Amalgama. Canogar will transform the artworks held in the Gallery collection including works by El Greco, Murillo and Velázquez, into a beautiful projection which melts across the exterior. The Spanish Gallery is the UK’s first gallery dedicated to the art, history and culture of Spain. In turning the building inside out with his liquefied transformation of the artworks usually seen inside, Canogar attempts to reveal how digital media is transforming our experience of viewing art. In Madrid in 2019, Canogar projected Amalgama El Prado onto the Prado  Museum’s façade. Amalgama El Prado and Amalgama Spanish Gallery at Lumiere address the challenges of making, viewing and circulating art in our liquid modernity.

Spotlight on Bishop Auckland is produced in partnership with The Auckland Project and supported by Stronger Towns Fund.

Leader of the council Cllr Amanda Hopgood said: “We are delighted to reveal the long-awaited programme for Lumiere as the commissioners of this international event. This year's programme is an exciting culmination of awe-inspiring work from world-renowned artists and thought-provoking projects created by our communities. We are also extending our reach outside of Durham City into the wider county, with some fantastic pieces to be enjoyed in Bishop Auckland town centre.

“We are committed to creating cultural opportunities within County Durham through our dynamic festivals and events programme. Now the UK’s light art biennial, Lumiere not only attracts thousands of people to our county, bringing with it a boost to our visitor economy across the four days, but it also raises our profile internationally as the culture county.”

Lumiere in Durham City runs from 4:30pm to 11pm each night and at Bishop Auckland from 5pm to 10pm. Tickets are only required to enter Durham City centre during peak hours between 4:30pm and 7:30pm. Everyone can enjoy Lumiere across the city without a ticket after this time.

Tickets are not required for Bishop Auckland at any time.

For full details of the programme and for further information on how to enjoy the festival, visit