Tag Archives: lumiere london

Lumiere London: Or, Black Friday-style crowds outside in the cold looking at cool art

16 Jan

In an effort to mix things up and take advantage of this great city we live in, Stephen and I decided to go to Lumiere London. According to the official website, we would get to “experience installations from the world’s most exciting artists working with light” and “see the city transformed into an extraordinary nocturnal delight” — all for free! Cool, right?

Just look at this:

lumiere london oxford st


And this:

lumiere london building
Photos courtesy Time Out London


We had to see it! So we hopped on the Tube a little before the event started at 6:30pm. We figured it might be a little crowded, but many of the roads were closed so there’d be plenty of space… right? I downloaded the Lumiere map on my phone and we made a game plan: start at Oxford Circus, then work our way down Regent Street and Carnaby, cut through to Piccadilly, then head over to Trafalgar Square before going back to Chinatown to get some of our beloved roast duck as takeaway for dinner. We honestly thought we’d be able to just speed by each installation and pick up dinner, in the same way my brother and I once thought we could just pick up some other necessities while we just happened to be at Wal-Mart on Black Friday a few years back. Ha! Hahahaha!

Lumiere London is beautiful, I’ll give it that. But Lumiere London is also Black Friday Wal-Mart crowded, which takes away from its beauty a bit. Imagine Black Friday Wal-Mart crowds so thick you can barely push your way through to the next aisle, except those crowds begin at the Oxford Street Tube station and spill out into all of Oxford and Regents streets.

“I immediately regret this decision,” I told Stephen the moment we pushed our way out of the Tube exit, only to be met with hordes of people pointing their phones to the sky.

“I just want to get out of here safely,” he replied. We both innately like to avoid crowds, but in light of recent news events, crowded spaces have become even less desirable.

We moved in the amoeba-like crowd down Regent Street until we were able to break off onto a side street. As we made our way towards Piccadilly, we heard the elephant before we saw it.

lumiere elephant.jpg
Photo courtesy BBC

And then we were once again forced to join the amoeba as we hit a wall of tourists and slow as molasses passed by Piccadilly. Looking down it was quite a sight:

lumiere-london fish.jpg
Photo courtesy Harper’s Bazaar

But we didn’t dare face the crowds and go down the road further.

“I’m done,” Stephen declared.

“I just want to see the dogs,” I said, referring to the glowing wiener dog balloons just down the Strand. “We’ll see the dogs, then hop on the Charring Cross Tube and be done.” At this point getting the duck was out of the question. One can only take so much amoeba crowd traveling in a night, and there was no way we were going to fight against the amoeba to go in the opposite direction.

We passed a real live dog on the side of the street wearing a glowing collar.

“Can he count?” Stephen asked.

“We’re almost there, I just want to see the dogs,” I replied. As we neared the site of the wiener dog balloons I saw a crowd at least 20 people thick. If we did manage to get through, there would be no getting out.

I no longer needed to see the dogs. The real live dog was probably cooler anyway. This online photo would have to suffice.

lumiere london wiener dogs.jpg
Photos courtesy Time Out London

I didn’t take any photos of my own the entire time because I wanted to fully live in the moment and use my brain as a camera. …Actually, that’s a lie. I just didn’t want to be a contributing clog in the artery of Lumiere pedestrian traffic or get my phone stolen. That, and no photo I took would be as good as all the professionals’ I procured for this post.

Although a part of me does wish I had photographed the real live glowing collar dog.