Lux: A festival of lights

I love festivals.

Falls Festival
Falls Festival in Byron Bay, Australia

Although on one hand I’m not a fan of large swarms of people, or trying to stand my ground against an unforgiving crowd, there’s also something about ideas being presented or performed in a public space that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Coachella Music Festival
Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California

Festivals spike my own inspiration, and remind me why I still love living in cities and why the human mind is still very much something to celebrate.

Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney, Australia
Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia was grand for festivals when I lived there, I timed it right in arriving at the cusp of summer, and I had a great season of going to the Noodle Night Markets, Sculpture by the Sea, Tropfest (the biggest short film festival in the world), individual suburb festivals, and even the epic Sydney Festival in Hyde Park at the height of summer, which also had installations to be found all over the city.

Sydney Festival
Sydney Festival

I adore art, music, food, and creativity. Festivals generally consist of most of those things, so I guess it’s not really surprising after all, that those aspects override the negatives.

I was happy with the fact that even though I arrived in New Zealand at the cusp of winter, festivals seemed to be just as big of a deal in Wellington as they were in the major city of Sydney.

Strawberry Fields Festival in Australia
Strawberry Fields Festival in Australia

There has been a festival on the waterfront almost every other weekend since I arrived, anything from a Japanese Festival, to Beervana, to Wellington on a Plate, and World of WearableArt, to even an Oktoberfest most recently where people were found roaming the streets in Bavarian costumes of every sort after it was over.

Beervana in Wellington, New Zealand
Beervana in Wellington, New Zealand

The most recent festivities I went to was for Guy Fawkes Day (a holiday I embarrassingly didn’t even know existed until I lived in New Zealand), which included an epic 20 minute fireworks show that would make any 4th of July fanatic drool in envy. It seems there’s always something to celebrate in Wellington.

One of my favorite festivals came at the end of winter, called Lux: Wellington Night Lights Festival. Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds, and even better than some of the others I mentioned, it was free!

Colour Fall
Colour Fall

Now, I like fairy lights as much as the next guitar-playing-candle-lighting-meditating-yogi, but I had never actually experienced a light festival before. Sadly, I missed the Vivid Sydney Festival by a couple of months, but as soon as I heard about Lux, a couple of nights before it ended, I knew I had to go or I’d regret not seeing the city lit up so pretty with my own eyes.

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Bridge of Light
Boing Boing Gloop Machine
Boing Boing Gloop Machine

Lux was basically a big treasure hunt throughout the city at nighttime. There were 26 installations in total, and they were anywhere from the most obvious of places, to down the corners of dark alleyways, sometimes they were even above you and you had to look up in order to see what everyone was pointing at.

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Fireplace
Fireplace
Daydream V.2
Daydream V.2

Some installations were scientific, some were musical, some were trippy, some were underwater, some were kid friendly (scream as loud as you can and the lights will change colors – probably the worst idea with kids involved), and some were just plain pretty.

There was a lot of screaming at this point - Square Things
There was a lot of screaming at this point – Square Things
Rasping Music
Rasping Music
Another screaming installation - screaming rapture
Another screaming installation – screaming rapture

Wellington laid out along the waterfront is already a very pretty city at night, the Lux Festival took the city up a notch higher, and put on display just how beautiful a place a city can be.

Learning about #entity255
Learning about #entity255
#entity255
#entity255

One of my favorite installations had to be nZwarm, a group of underwater lights meant to simulate luminous sea creatures such as bioluminescent algae or maybe even a touch of Aurora Borealis. You could even make subtle changes to the light patterns through your smartphone, a good example of how interactive the whole festival was.

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nZwarm
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Slight modulation in colors – nZwarm

Another favorite was the Potion Forest, an Avatar-esque installation that consisted of glowing potions of different colors hanging from tree branches, and meant to be a solace and a place of peace in the middle of the city.

Potion Forest
Potion Forest

Lastly, I enjoyed the grandeur of The Chandelier installation. Located in a grungy little back alleyway, The Chandelier was a hanging geometric glowing chandelier that added a bit of light, class and contrast to the dumpsters and graffiti surrounding it.

The Chandelier
The Chandelier
Changing colors of The Chandelier
Changing colors of The Chandelier

For a list and description of all the installations on display click here.

In addition to 26 installations, there were also two hubs on either ends of the light trail where food trucks and entertainment was to be found. At one, near the Te Papa museum, there was an awesome lady decked out in black, covered with hanging fluorescent lights, and dancing around with the crowd to the tune of her own beat.

Lady dancing with lights attached
Lady dancing with lights attached

Although, music festivals will always have my heart, there’s no need to pick and choose when it comes to cities like Wellington, which are filled with festivals and events constantly.

2745
2745

Lux was like no other festival I’ve attended before, and it made me want to find other light festivals to go to around the world – by the way, any recommendations are much appreciated! Shouldn’t every city have some sort of light festival? I mean, even Alicia Keys once said that big lights will inspire you. I think she was right on point.

Bridge of Lights
Bridge of Lights
Orbs
Orbs

Have you ever been to a light festival? What type of festivals do you enjoying going to?

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In case you missed it, the Atlas Heart now has a Facebook Page!

I’ll be posting most of my travel related updates, blog posts, and worldy tips on this page, as well as some really random things (i.e. ukulele sessions in beautiful corners of the world, and even some postcard giveaways!). Feel free to check it out, like it, or just say hi here. Have a great week <3

Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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