A light orchestra, glowing musical seesaws and neon umbrellas – the amazing art installations not to miss at Lightwaves 2019

From Heaton Park’s Lightopia festival to the city centre’s new festive lights trail , Manchester is all aglow this winter.

And adding another bright flicker of light to the dark nights next week will be the return of Lightwaves at Salford Quays.

The annual free light festival returns from Friday December 6 to Sunday December 15, illuminating the waterfront with inspiring, interactive digital artworks.

Visitors can conduct their own light orchestra in one of the installations, which invites people on to a podium to direct a symphony of light beams and music with their hands.

Responding to their movement, motorized projectors emit beams of light and unique musical sequences that become livelier the more the conductor’s hands move. With slower movement, the music becomes softer and the light beams gently sway.

Wave-Field, an art installation made up of light-up musical seesaws, is coming to Salford Quays
(Image: Wave-Field)

Another highlight will be Wave-Field, a playground of musical seesaws which light up and burst into sound when people clamber on.

The playful installation aims to encourage encounters between strangers, friends and family, with the sounds and lights becoming richer as more people play.

You can watch them in action at a previous event below.

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Other highlights include a kaleidoscopic moving light performance using colourful LED umbrellas; an LED tree that blooms with coloured light; and a 25m tunnel of light that pulsates as visitors walk beneath it.

(Image: Lightwaves)

The festival will also feature the world premiere of GeoThicket, a virtual reality experience in The Lowry that invites visitors to choose their own path through a multidimensional, geometric wonderland.

Also premiering at this year’s festival will be Homage to Rain, a celebration of the precipitation we so often curse in Manchester.

Created by filmmaker Antony Barkworth-Knight, musician and GoGo Penguin drummer Rob Turner, and digital strategist Rebecca Rae-Evans, the art film is compiled from mobile phone footage of rain sent in by people from all over the world.

“Through the prism of the phenomena of rainfall we will see how people are living around the world in 2019,” said Rebecca.

“What are our homes like? What environments do we live in? Our clothes, our culture, our surrounding landscape, our way of life. How is this transformed when it rains?”

The short film, commissioned by Quays Culture and the University of Salford Art Collection, will play on a loop set to an original score by Rob, and will be released globally online after its Lightwaves premiere.

For the full Lightwaves programme, visit thequays.org.uk/whats-on/lightwaves-2019 .

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