Preview: LightNight Liverpool

Cultural venues in Liverpool will keep their doors open after dark this month and spill out onto the streets to celebrate the city’s thriving arts scene

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Liverpool’s year as European Capital Of Culture in 2008 proved there was a voracious appetite for arts in the city and one of the most vibrant indications of that new confidence must be LightNight. The art showcase and “culture crawl” brings the Liverpool night to life on 19 May this year with ore than 100 free events at venues across the city.

“It’s a night when the city has a big party to showcase the incredible arts on offer in Merseyside all year round, with all the LightNight events specially created,” says Charlotte Corrie of Open Culture, a Liverpool-based social enterprise that has been producing LightNight since 2010. “We have a thorough application process for the specific commissions and, because we want it to be as intriguing and creative and inspiring as possible, we’re strict that anyone else who wants to be part of the programme has to offer something that’s different to their normal offer, not just be keeping their doors open late.”

It’s dubbed a culture crawl because visitors are encouraged to plan their route but Corrie wants them to prepare for surprises too.

“The city centre’s relatively small so it’s easy to move around and take in quite a lot of the art. Then again, some people just like to hang around with their mates in an art-friendly environment.

“It’s not a school night so we do always encourage people to stay out that little bit later because it is just once a year and there are some things that will never happen again.”

Over 100 arts organisations are coming together to stage the festival, with more than 900 artists and performers taking part to respond to this year’s theme – time. Venues opening late into the night include Tate Liverpool, Bluecoat, Black Lodge Brewery, FACT, Constellations and Baltic Creative, while a number of new venues will throw open their doors for the 2017 festival.

Artist Aleasha Chaunté and two collaborators – Vicci Riley and Joanne Tremarco  – will travel around the city from 5pm as part of the Handless Project. It includes bedtime stories at Liverpool Cathedral and a sleepover at Unity Theatre, which has chosen to reopen to the public on LightNight following its £845,000 redevelopment. They’ll rise at 4am to Sing Up The Sun at St James’s Gardens with a vocal performance led by Steve Boyland.

There’s more music as Liverpool Philharmonic opens up the main auditorium for the first time alongside its Music Room, staging performances from Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir, guitarist Craig Ogden and Rubber Duck Orchestra. Elsewhere Surtsey Projects, an independent space set up by artists Lily Mellor, Devon Forrester-Jones and Laura Rushton, brings together set designer Alexandra Morton and performance artist Raphaella Davies for Buildings Roman, a time-based performance that draws on Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days.

Both cathedrals will open their doors to music, with a mass singing workshop by Tracey Carmen and DJ Greg Wilson at Liverpool Cathedral and a commemorative light art performance by Andy McKeown in collaboration with the cathedral choir.

“As well as the buildings and the arts and cultural organisations, LightNight is an opportunity to bring the streets alive with drumming, theatre, puppetry and music along with light art installations that might catch audiences unaware,” says Corrie, proudly pointing out that the only paying event of the whole night is the after party at Constellations, an installation and club project, presented by artist Sam Wiehl and soundtracked by Andy Votel.

Tickets for the after party are available at The full line-up is at 

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