I feel compelled to comment on this year’s Lumiere Festival in Durham which was very disappointing. 2 years ago Durham Lumiere was spectacular. Amazing installations at the key locations in the city – market place snow globe, cathedral son et lumiere, fire festival at the back of the cathedral (brilliant), south bailey illuminated suspended mesh figures, Prebends Bridge rainbow - a sensible and enjoyable route through the main attractions and down onto the river and a relaxed atmosphere despite the crowds. I went on the Sunday in 2011 whilst still light, had a coffee, parked easily in the Prince Bishops Car Park and waited for darkness then wandered around. It was very busy but people were moving around easily with only minor queues to get through the cathedral, for example. We also had time to visit other installations in the Elvet area.
What a different story this year. From a customer perspective the ticketing system was a disaster. As I didn’t have a ticket I went on Saturday evening at around 6.30 pm with the aim of looking at some of the peripheral installations first then getting into the peninsula for 7.30pm. We didn’t see many of the these other installations as we felt we had to join the massive queue to get into the market place and we didn’t get in until 8.30pm. The crowd control system smacked of the tyrannies of health and safety legislation with metal barriers everywhere and marshals shouting instructions on megaphones. The whole atmosphere was ruined. When we got there we found the installations pretty uninspiring. We didn’t have time to explore the installations further afield.
I had a friend with ME and a disabled car badge with me. There was no disabled parking anywhere near the city and I had to park at County Hall. She couldn’t manage the walk back to the car. I had to bring it down.
Please assure me that if there is a next time,the installations have more of a WOW factor and that H&S legislation will not ruin the event with barriers, ticketing and the heavy presence of noisy marshals.