Festival of Lights Southampton

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North Yorkshire prides itself on its York Christmas Festival. Cornwall has Truro’s Festival of Lights. Manchester has Magical Lantern Festival.  On the other hand, Southampton has its own light exhibition at Westquay.

Started in 2017, this festival of lights in the city has become a top destination for the locals, expats, and other travelers.

Every year, the organizers always surprise the fans. From 2017 to 2018, the light festival presented a narrative projected against the city walls with a LED maze, glowing spheres, and engaging musical installation. And it was a big success.

Festival of Lights Southampton
Festival highlights

About the Festival of Lights Southampton

In 2019, people witnessed the light exhibition again. Unlike the light display in 2017-18, the festival was different and held across Hammerson locations, including Dublin, Southampton, and Birmingham. It was also successful. 

In 2020, the festival of lights in Southampton went beyond people’s imagination and expectations. New light installations have been added like the Pulse, Affinity, Birds Fly Around With You, and Neon Angel Wings. 

The Pulse consisted of LED Lights, sound, and loop structures. Amigo & Amigo’s Affinity is another interactive sound and light installation. Compared to the Pulse, Affinity is inspired by our human brain. Every light represents a memory. 

Light Art Collection’s Birds Fly Around With You has also been the talk of the town. As the name implies, the light display is an illusion of birds. It seemed very realistic and could be nostalgic for people of all ages. 

Carlo O’Brien’s Neon Angel Wings has also caught the interests and attention of many. It has three neon angel wings with a halo, making the place picture-perfect and instagrammable. 

Some of these were also seen in the 2021 festival of lights in Southampton, and it was a big hit as anyone had expected.

In 2023, the event featured interactive artworks, illuminated arches, and an interactive ocean that featured 12,096 LED lights.

Festival Dates

For five years, this festival of lights has been held from February 14 to February 23. Yes, it is almost a two-week event, giving many people the chance to experience it first hand. This 2023, however, the festival has been celebrated from February 10 to February 19. For the 2024 edition of this breathtaking festival of lights, organizers are yet to announce the specific dates, so it’s best to stay tuned for the latest updates.

Where it’s Located and How to Get There

The 2017 and 2018 light display took place at Westquay Shopping Center. In 2019, it was celebrated across three different locations such as the Southampton, Dublin, and Birmingham. In 2020, it happened in The Esplanade close to Westquay.

For the 2023 festival of light took place in the new Esplanade, near Westquay Shopping Center. For the 2024 location, organizers are yet to announce specific details and information.

Southampton International Airport is a stopping point for trains from and to London Waterloo. It only takes an hour and 10 minutes of travel.

If you forget to rent a car, there is nothing to worry about. A taxi rank is available and accessible at the airport.

Other amazing lights festivals to check out in United Kingdom are:

Light Up Lancaster

Festival of Lights Longleat

Festival Hours

No matter how stunning a light exhibition is, you won’t appreciate it in broad daylight. The light display in Southampton typically starts from 5 pm to 10 pm. This annual event takes place in February for ten days, so many fans have a lot of time to enjoy it.

Cost to Visit the Festival

The festival of light in Southampton is a free event. Yes, there are no admission fees. You can explore everything available there, from the Birds That Fly Around With You to Jen Lewin Studio’s The Pool. But buy some snacks and foods so that you have something to eat when you get hungry.

Weather and What to Wear

Yes, February is the last month of the winter season in Southampton. Still, it is frosty. The temperature ranges from 37.9 degrees Fahrenheit to 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

When planning to visit the festival of lights in Southampton, it is best to go out of your car to look into every display in detail.

But since it is cold, you just have to wear a coat designed for winter, boots, a thermal base layer, a thermal layer under your jeans, and wool socks.

If you love accessories, you could wear some, of course. Keep your hand warm with a chic gloves. Plus, be sure to wear a hat of your choice.

Where to Sleep?

Who would not know Southampton? The city is popular for its rich history, and it is home to Southampton FC (a football team). It is also the talk of the town, especially in February as its festival of lights happens that month. But it has more things to offer and staying in the city for a few months is a bright idea. Below are a few quality hotels that you can weigh in mind:

Southampton Harbour Hotel

Cruise-ship design? Port-side location? Name it! Southampton Harbour Hotel has them all. It also provides a spa for those who want some pampering. Its shell massage is good, and the staff is trained and experienced.

What most locals love about the Southampton Harbour Hotel is that the views are remarkable and world-class. While someone is giving you a good massage, you could look at the breathtaking views, leveling up your experience.

The Pilgrim Inn

Do you want an escape from the world? The Pilgrim Inn may help. Designed with a properly thatched roof, the Pilgrim Inn is a traditional yet cozy place to spend your vacation. Every room is very modern. The ornaments are catchy and trendy. The antique pieces of furniture look simple. But if you try to look at each one of them, it is elegant and appealing. Like other hotels in Southampton, it provides a buffet type of breakfast, including French toast and eggs Benedict.

The White Star Tavern

What do you consider when looking for a hotel in Southampton? Perhaps, it’s the location, the decor, and the food. The White Star Tavern got your back. Located in Oxford Street, the White Star Tavern is close to recreational activities you should not miss. When it comes to the interior, it is embellished with framed pictures. Also, every room has minibars, desks, and other amenities.

What to Eat

Most of the time, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided in hotels in Southampton. But eating them regularly can be boring, and you perhaps want something different. Leave your needs to any of these three restaurants around the city.

The Oxford Brasserie

Southampton is in the UK. But if you are craving Italian cuisine, do you have to go to Italy to satisfy your cravings? That is not necessary! Southampton has restaurants that serve Italian-inspired meals, and the Oxford Brasserie is on top of our list. If you like some English or French cuisines, you also have come to the right place. The menu consists of gourmet items, including artichoke pithivier, Hampshire beef, and goat’s cheese. It is located at 33-34 Oxford St, Southampton.

White Star Tavern

After a long stressful month of working in the office, you deserve to treat yourself in an award-winning pub like the White Star Tavern. Serving to provide good and quality food to locals, the White Star Tavern started to be recognized by many. For its dedication to personalized services, the pub is one of the sought-after destinations for many. Just like the Oxford Brasserie, White Star Tavern is committed to using the freshest and the most organic ingredients in all its food. Every dish on the menu is also prepared with attention to detail, skill, and care. What’s more, the interior of the bar is cozy and warm.

Olive Tree

Who does not like French cuisines? For sure, everyone would love steak frites, bloc de Foie gras, steak tartare, moules a la mariniere, confit de canard, terrine de campagne, and even escargots. If you have never tried French cuisine before and want some during your visit to Southampton, the Olive Tree is expert-recommended. It serves the classic French bistro food in the city. It also prepares seafood linguini made of mussels, prawns, and crayfish that you should try.

More Things to Do in the Area

Have you ever traveled out of the country before? Did you just stay there for a week or two? How’s the experience? Probably, you think you did not get the most out of your vacation.

If yes, do not make the same mistake when you go to Southampton. Although you want to go there because of the light exhibition, make sure to take advantage of the opportunity.

Here are the other things you should include in your travel bucket list:

SeaCity Museum 

Perhaps, knowing the history of the country you explore is not your thing. But once you are in the SeaCity Museum, you would feel interested in uncovering its rich history. Its Titanic Story exhibit is one of the destinations that capture many people’s attention. The SeaCity is located in the Art Deco Civic Center.

Since you are in the Art Deco Civic Center, you can also find the Southampton City Art Gallery. If you have gone thru the SeaCity Museum, do not miss the Southampton City Art Gallery. It is home to a vast collection of artworks from English artists and old masters in the 17th century.

FAQ

1. What parking options are available for guests attending the Festival of Lights Southampton?

Answer: Southampton offers a range of parking facilities throughout the city. During the Festival of Lights, certain car parks might be busier than usual. It’s recommended to arrive early or consider using public transport. Some special event parking areas might also be designated during the festival.


2. Can visitors smoke at the Festival of Lights Southampton?

Answer: For the comfort of all attendees, smoking is generally prohibited in crowded areas or near the light installations. Designated smoking areas may be provided away from the main event areas.


3. Are pets allowed at the Festival of Lights Southampton?

Answer: While pets, particularly dogs, are often allowed in many outdoor spaces in Southampton, it’s recommended to check specific guidelines for the Festival of Lights. If pets are permitted, they should be kept on a leash and managed responsibly.


4. Will there be food and drinks available during the Festival of Lights?

Answer: Absolutely! The Festival of Lights usually features various food and beverage stalls, offering a range of refreshments to enhance the festive experience.


5. Are there any restricted items visitors should avoid bringing to the festival?

Answer: Items such as large bags, glass containers, and unauthorized professional camera equipment might be discouraged. For a complete list of restricted items, it’s best to refer to the festival’s official guidelines.


6. Is the Festival of Lights Southampton wheelchair and stroller accessible?

Answer: Yes, the festival aims to be accessible to everyone. Most pathways and areas around the light displays are wheelchair and stroller-friendly.


7. How can visitors stay updated about any changes or important announcements regarding the festival?

Answer: Visitors are encouraged to check the official Festival of Lights Southampton website or social media channels for any updates, changes, or important announcements.


8. In case of adverse weather, will the festival continue?

Answer: The Festival of Lights Southampton is primarily an outdoor event, so it generally runs rain or shine. In cases of extreme weather conditions, modifications might be made or certain displays might be temporarily closed. Any such changes would be communicated through official channels.

Sources:

https://billetto.co.uk/e/westquay-spectacular-festival-of-light-tickets-178988

https://enfields-southampton.co.uk/news/festival-of-light-returns-to-westquay-in-southampton

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