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Gardens of Light Festival, UK

The Gardens of Light Festival was a major new event at the heart of Bournemouth, Dorset to boost the town’s winter tourism appeal.

Working in conjunction with Bournemouth Town Centre BID, the six-week festive period saw the Lower Gardens lit up by a series of emphatic light-art displays. From the iconic balloon and bandstand to the meandering river, Michael Grubb Studio utilised each dynamic of the lower gardens for an all-encompassing experience.

The project commenced in 2013 when asked to develop a range of lighting concepts for the proposed winter festival. This commission eventually grew into a Lighting Masterplan for the entire site.

One of our biggest challenges was delivering a six-week outside event during the winter months. This delivered several issues, such as security, unwanted public interaction and how best to protect lighting equipment after the event shut for the day.

The main attractions of the festival were the 10 Light-Pods. These were scattered along the paths linking Bournemouth Town Centre to the beachfront. Using the structures of traditional beach huts, the lighthouses used quirky interiors with innovative lighting designs to create optical illusions.

Five of the light pods were developed and unveiled at the Arts by the Sea Festival. These included: The HipPODdrome, Colour Intensity, The Lounge, Tidal Waves and Optical World.

Showcasing five of the huts during the summer allowed them to be viewed and tested by the public in advance of the Gardens of Light Festival. This approach generated worthwhile PR material and conversation in advance of the official Gardens of Light launch.

Five more (cost effect) Light-Pods were added for year one. They included The Great Migration, The Enchanted Beach Hut, The UV Room and Our World.

Year two (2014) saw the festival expand in size with the Bandstand and Pine Walk being incorporated within the project. We acted as designers and curators, advising on all aspects of the festival, from look and feel, to planning and delivery on site.

We worked with local community groups such AFC Bournemouth, Air Festival, BH Live and Malmesbury Park Primary School.

The Gardens of Light Festival was an overwhelming success for the town.

Footfall increased with Town Centre retail trading bucking the nationwide trend. The project was awarded a Lighting Design Award at the Design Week Awards and gained national recognition and publicity.

The festival was extremely well received with The Guardian naming the event amongst the ‘must see’ top 10 events.


Bournemouth BID

Design Team

Michael Grubb Studio


Mike Massaro


Bournemouth, UK


Lighting Design Award 2014, Winner & Design Week Award 2014, Winner