This past weekend saw the debut of the very popular “Lumiere” event in London. Described as “installations from the world’s most exciting artists working with light,” this outside exhibit joined a long line of other city light festivals held throughout the year and all over the world, including Sydney, Singapore, Helsinki, Amsterdam, and Lyon. Each night-time celebration lights up iconic buildings and landmarks throughout its host city, attracting crowds excited to walk around what feels like a beautiful, colorful, and family-friendly block party.
One of the most well-known of all these events is the annual 10-day Festival of Lights held each October in Berlin, Germany. Recently, I couldn’t believe my luck when I was sent to the city to cover a conference at a time that overlapped with this famous Festival. So during a free evening, I grabbed my Mom and Aunt (who were tagging along on the trip) and we headed out for what was a truly spectacular night…
We started our tour at the famous Brandenburg Gate, going to stand with the huge crowd in time for a scheduled performance.
As music rang out through loud speakers, different lighting combinations and even videos were projected onto the monument. At one point, it looked like fireworks were going off and at another, it looked like a young girl was twirling near the top, but it was all done with effects. Very cool!
We then hopped back onto our tour bus as it wound its way through the city. We were able to see many of the participating buildings showing off wild and often changing colors through the bus windows, but it was even better (of course!) when the bus would let us out at some of the more elaborate displays.
Overall, it was a GREAT night. The traffic was crazy busy, though. So we were glad we had ordered reserved tickets for a tour that came with a friendly and very knowledgeable guide – and which allowed us to leave the driving to someone else.
One small note: we actually selected combo tickets, which started with this bus tour and then switched to a boat ride along the River Spree. However, we could have done without that last part. It was very cold out on the deck and the guide who was talking there kept forgetting to also explain things in English, even though we had specifically booked the “in English” version. Oh well! We finished up the evening inside the boat’s much warmer bar area, sipping some type of alcoholic hot chocolate and watching the sights through big side windows. In other words, things worked out just fine.