Oxford Castle 2021 Seige Matilda Stephen A

Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival is back for 2021 and starting tonight with an exciting programme including THE switch-on, a large-scale illumination, a Victorian market on Broad Street and Gloucester Green, a full-scale son et lumière projection at Oxford Castle and community hubs in the city’s neighbourhoods, this weekend (19th and 20th November).

Oxford Castle 2021

Oxford Contemporary Music and Arts at the Old Fire Station have jointly commissioned a dance and sound performance from Thomas Page DancesCreating on Borrowed Time will be a four part immersive work, spread across the city, exploring the relationship between dance, light, time and sound. 

“We’re very excited about Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival, one of the city’s key, annual cultural events”

Thomas Page Dances at OFS: Skirmishes. Photo credit: Dominic Farlam

There will also be four main festival neighbourhood hubs at Rose Hill, Cowley, Blackbird Leys, and Cutteslowe. These local creative hubs involve buildings, parks, streets and houses being illuminated with light creations accompanied by sound, movement and interactive play.

To give you an idea of some of the projects that have been working hard behind the scenes around Oxford –

  • Rose Hill Community Centre‘s showcase event is on Saturday November 20 following sound, animation, games making and light design workshops with Film Oxford and Junior Youth Group. In the evening a ‘sound and vision’ procession will wind its way around Rose Hill and down to the local allotments.
  • A light sculpture for the Blackbird Leys CDI building has been made with IF Oxford Science and Ideas Festival and will be in place over the festival weekend, inspired by the concept of a 3D ‘curtain’ of light that responds to sunlight, torchlight and sound.
  • A trail of illuminated windows will be on show in Cutteslowe, thanks to creative packs supplied to local residents, by the North Wall Arts Centre and lantern making workshops at the Cutteslowe Garden Centre, Cutteslowe Community Centre and Cutteslowe Primary School. Some of the lanterns will appear in a procession through the park and at the pavilion on 19th and 20th November. Low Carbon West Oxford is hosting a light trail, Window Wanderland, in their neighbourhood during the festival.
  • Join the celebration at Ark-T Centre, Cowley, on Friday November 19, when their Light Garden will be showcasing lanterns, illuminated sculptures and wearable art made by young people from their Creativity Changes Lives programme. Visitors can bring their own lights, share food, join the Creativity Camps procession around Ark-T and dance at the silent disco.
  • Florence Park in Cowley will be the site for a light celebration including a laser show from FloFestFusion Arts and Oxford Business Park have been running community-focused art workshops for schools and community groups to build lanterns made of sustainable materials.

Festival Directors, Karen Starr and Lois Muddiman, who have taken the reins of the festival for the first time, say “We’re very excited to be working on Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival, one of the city’s key, annual cultural events.

“Having the festival take place in the city’s residential areas allows so many more people to be able to actively take part”

“Oxford residents and creative organisations have been working together to light up the skies, as public spaces and neighbourhood streets become the canvas for a weekend of illuminations.

“Having the festival take place in the city’s residential areas allows so many more people to be able to actively take part or simply stroll around their neighbourhood to see sculptures, light trails and displays. There’s lots to look forward to and lots of ways to get involved. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone out on their streets enjoying the spectacle.”

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, says “This is an opportunity to come together and celebrate the creativity of our local communities. By making the festival in the residential areas of the city, everyone can get involved. Events, like the Christmas Light Festival, bring people together. Let’s make it a time to create, celebrate and enjoy our city.”

Oxford Victorian Christmas Market

The 2021 festival is being delivered by a consortium of partners: Fusion Arts, Film Oxford, OCM (Oxford Contemporary Music), Oxford City Council, OFS (Arts at the Old Fire Station) and Tandem Collective and has been funded by Oxford City Council and sponsored by Oxford Business Park.

Members of the public can make their own lantern kits (£7) at fusionarts.bigcartel.com

IF-Oxford Science and Ideas Festival weekly online tutorials in making programmable LED lights ready for a paper lantern or window display in the home are available at https://if-oxford.com/events/?_search=Glow%20weekly.              

To find out more about he full programme of events, workshops and trails go to https://www.oxlightfest.com

Oxford’s Christmas Light Festival will be held on 19th and 20th November 2021