Illuminate festival returns to light up Oldham town centre and beyond

THE annual free Illuminate festival is set to return to Oldham – and this time it’s bigger and better than ever.

After the continued success of the Illuminate events in previous years, we’re expanding the programme to include another special event on Sunday 19 February.

The festival which now runs from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 February will see visitors wowed by incredible artworks and performances brought to life by the imaginations of artists from across the UK.

The main Light Night will take place on Saturday 18 February, showcasing 12 light works and a whole range of performances and ways to take part, plus the addition of the new Under-Wonder event at Northern Roots on Sunday 19 February – an intimate, illuminated, family-friendly adventure in the woods.

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “Illuminate is one of the most spectacular events in the borough and I’m so glad to be able to bring it back to Oldham for its sixth year.

“With so many artworks, performances, and activities, it’s sure to not disappoint families and children of all ages.

“We’ve been able to add another date to the festival this year as it’s been so popular with residents and visitors in the past, and I’m excited that the  magic of Illuminate will be extended to Northern Roots.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the town centre full with colour – and encourage everyone to get their friends and family together for what is sure to be a magical event.”

From Monday 13 February to Saturday 18 February the Queen Elizabeth Hall will host the magnificent “Mars”, by Luke Jerram. Measuring seven metres in diameter, the Mars artwork features detailed NASA imagery of the Martian surface. At around one million times smaller than the actual planet, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 10 kilometres of the surface of Mars.

Then, the main event will take place on Saturday 18 February across Oldham town centre from 6pm with an illuminated carnival from Oldham Civic Centre to the Old Town Hall. Come and take part in the river of light as the community-made lanterns flow through the streets of the town centre accompanied by the Spirit of the North, illuminated dancers, giant puppets and rhythmic sounds.

Fans of Doctor Who won’t want to miss the spectacular installation at the Gallery Oldham and Library Gardens as Blackpool Illuminations come to town. Built by Lightworks, the replicas of the famous Tardis and Dalek from the BBC tv series Dr Who will descend into the space to delight the fans, young and old.

Oldham’s Old Town Hall will be transformed into a spectacular light show in a retelling of the local legend of Crime Lake. Come with us as we reveal the real magic found within the tale and the strange but wondrous world beneath the water’s surface. Featuring the original 1960’s poem, vivid projection mapping and storytelling, see the Grade 2 listed building come alive with Spirits of the North.

Book a tour of the Oldham Parish Church Crypt and explore the history and burial home of the famous Oldham Giant. The free tours will take place at 6pm, 7pm and 8pm on Saturday 18 February and can be booked on Eventbrite – book your ticket as places will sell out fast. 

Take part and create a lantern with all the family at Gallery Oldham and be part of the illuminate parade. Workshops take place on Saturday 4 and 11 February and during 1/2 term on Tues 14, Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 February – 10 am and 1.30pm To book your free place at the workshops, visit Eventbrite. 

Airgiants will be showcasing Unfurl in the Parish Church Gardens a garden like no other, a dreamscape of interactive gentle giant robots made from fabric and air that tower up to 5 metres high.

The Civic Centre car park will play host to Our Beating Heart, by Studio Vertigo, a huge mirror ball sculpture that slowly rotates, casting light across Oldham’s town centre.

And this year we’ve added Under-Wonder, which takes place in the woodland at Northern Roots on Sunday 19th February.

Journey into the wonderful world of the ‘wood wide web’ with the Paper Trail Collective, discover magical woodland creatures, help bring the Golden Mushroom to life and transform a dark woodland dell into an illuminated mycelium celebration party.

Bring your family and friends along to have fun and help create a wonder-filled celebration. The event, taking place from 5.30 – 8pm is free to attend there’s no need to book – just turn up.

There’s a lot more taking place as part of the festival including One Way Or Another by Tom Biddulph, plus, musical performances from Jubacana, light painting workshops, light-up craft workshops and much more.

For the full line up of events, visit:

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