United By Light


Four artworks which will form part of one of the UK’s largest free city centre events have been revealed.

Liverpool’s annual River of Light festival will make its return to the city centre next month, once again showcasing illuminated art installations created by the most innovative light artists from across the world.

Following on from 2022’s huge success which welcomed 250,000 visitors and brought in around £6millon to the local economy, this year’s event will run from Friday 27 October until Sunday 5 November.

The 2023 theme is United By Light – inspired by the United By Music strapline used when Liverpool was the host city for what is regarded as the most successful Eurovision Song Contest ever.

Although most of the installations making up the 2km out are being kept under wraps, the team can reveal that the following creations will be part of the walking trail:

  • Emergence – This stunning installation has a meditative quality, focusing on the mood-altering power of light and sound with visitors being encouraged to explore the three-by-ten metre pavilion which is made up of mirrors and more than 10,000 LED lights. It will reflect its surroundings and a choreographed light show will be accompanied by a captivating soundtrack.  The work has been created by globally acclaimed artists This is Loop.  
  • Lampshades Bouquet – French artistic studio TILT have been inspired by everyday objects – giving them a twist of humour and poetry. Expect gigantic outdoor versions of a household lamp, curated in a very special way which will light up in a variety of coloursA bench at each bouquet’s base makes it the most unique location to take the weight off!
  • Elysian and Elysian Arcs –These two never-before-seen commissions will premiere at this year’s festival courtesy of Sydney-based design studio Atelier Sisu. Encouraging people to find joy in the everyday, a giant inflatable creation will allow people to walk around and through it as colour reacts to light and form. Liverpool-based award-winning composer John McHugh has been chosen by Atelier Sisu to produce a brand new soundscape for both the Elysian art works.   

The full list of installations and their locations will be revealed in early October.

The popularity of last year’s event was felt across the city centre with footfall up, and restaurants, bars and shops reporting a boost in sales. Liverpool ONE welcomed 1.7million visitors to their stores during the event period – a 27 per cent increase in footfall compared to the same period in 2021 – and overall sales were up 5 per cent

Liverpool BID Company also reported a significant increase in Church Street footfall day-on-day, in comparison with 2019 – week days experienced an increase of nearly 70 per cent, and at weekends it was up by 42 per cent.

Royal Albert Dock Liverpool also welcomed the additional evening visitors with many businesses located on the estate, noting a boost in sales.

To get the latest information visit www.visitliverpool.com/riveroflight or follow @visitliverpool (Twitter, Facebook and TikTok) or @visitliverpool_ (Instagram).

River of Light will be part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as the lead authority.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Culture, Councillor Harry Doyle, said:

“River of Light is one of my favourite events of the year. Each year, this city acts as the perfect backdrop for the work of some of the best local, national and international artists around, and really does make you look at familiar spaces in a whole new light.

“It makes art accessible, fun and thought-provoking, and as we can see from previous years, it has a direct, positive impact on the local economy, bringing a much-needed financial boost to the leisure and hospitality sector.

“United by Light is the perfect theme this year on the back of our triumphant Eurovision host city programme, and there will be a very special nod to Eurovision with one of our River of Light art works – more will be revealed on this soon!”  

Atelier Sisu Artistic Directors, Zara Parsfield and Renzo B. Larriviere, said:

“We are very excited to be returning for River of Light in 2023! We can’t wait to bring our work to the beautiful city of Liverpool alongside a talented line up of local, national and international artists.

“We’re thrilled and excited to be bringing Elysian and Elysian Arcs to Liverpool for their World Debut! The city is such a wonderful location for the work, and we hope that we can bring a spark of joy to Liverpool this Autumn!” 

Composer and Artistic Director of Music in Mind, John McHugh said:

“It’s an honour for me to be working with Culture Liverpool and international artists Atelier Sisu on River Of Light 2023. As a proud Liverpool composer, I’ve created a lot of work that reflects the voice of the city and this project gives me the opportunity to work on a large outdoor installation that will be experienced by thousands of people.”

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