top of page
  • Writer's pictureIna

Winter Lights festival returns to Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf’s Illuminating Winter Lights festival is back! 22 award-winning light installations are here to beat the January blues and render the dark winter evenings aglow.

After a two-year hiatus, the enthralling outdoor immersive light exhibition is open from Wednesday 18th to Saturday 28th of January and is London’s largest free-to-attend light display. Walk the trail of unique and mesmerizing installations, including 9 pieces never previously displayed in the UK.

Take the time to reflect upon this year’s topical themes of climate change, togetherness, and the transfer of data in the modern world. The collection of light installations comes from some of the most innovative and talented international artists. It celebrates the simple pleasures of beauty, playfulness, and whimsy, making Winter Lights a perfect evening activity for all ages.

Key works:

  • Floating Earth, a magical earth globe by esteemed artist Luke Jerram which will float in the water of Middle Dock;

  • In Wood Wharf Anima by ELISAVA is an immersive tunnel of fibre-optic lights that represent our data-driven world

  • Tom Lambert amazes us with Out of the Dark, a multi-sensory, audio-visual installation that provides space for self-reflection;

  • Artist Fisheye displays Permafrost – Sleeping Giants, a riverside resurrection of three, ancient, life-sized, mammoths animated through light.

Those looking for a bite to eat whilst exploring the festival can tuck into tasty treats from a number of pop-up food trucks serving delicious street food and hot drinks. After walking the trail visitors who’ve worked up an appetite and are looking for an escape from the cold can choose from the many cafes, bars, and restaurants that Canary Wharf has to offer. There’s something for everyone from the newly opened Dishoom, Pergola on the Wharf, to the sustainable steak spot M Restaurant, the London Cocktail Club, and more.

In addition to Canary Wharf’s array of shops, bars, and restaurants, the Ice Rink in Canada Square Park remains open until 25th February for visitors to make a day of it with a roof to ensure all-weather skating.

Winter Lights is free to visit and visitors can download the map via the Canary Wharf App or website to guide them through the trail or pick one up from a friendly Canary Wharf steward across the Estate. Installations are open from 5 pm–10 pm and it is recommended that visitors wrap up warm and visit outside peak times (6-8 pm) on weekends and evenings, where possible.

Installations in map order

1. bit.fall by Julius Popp is located in Chancellor’s Passage by Middle Dock and is an ever-changing cascade of words created by thousands of perfectly timed falling water droplets. The words are derived from a number of live news sources and represent the speed at which information is sourced, exchanged, and updated more transient than ever before.

2. The Clew, by artist Ottotto at Cubitt Steps, is made up of 100 circles of red light framing the Cubitt Steps Bridge. The minimalistic design creates reflections on the water and structures, giving a different perspective to the architecture of Canary Wharf.

3. PING by Gijs Van Bon in Westferry Circus, is made up of 200 beacons spread over a 125-metre-long track. Like nodes within a network, messages are passed from one beacon to the next, creating a chain reaction. This installation’s trajectory and shape are determined by its ecosystem - watch as the undulating lights and accompanying soundscape uniquely bring Westferry Circus to life.

4. Permafrost - Sleeping Giants by Fisheye, located by Canary Riverside, is a permanently frozen layer beneath the earth’s surface which consists of rock and soil. This phenomenon is known as the ‘sleeping giant’ of climate change. Be in awe of this installation as it resurrects three ancient mammoths who have been isolated deep in the layers of permafrost for centuries: animating them through magnificent illumination.

5. Continuum by Illumaphonium in Cabot Square, is a meticulously arranged geometric matrix of reactive and resonating stainless steel mirrors, reminding us we are all one.

6. The Stars Come Out at Night by Stellar Projects which can be found on Wren Landing, is a striking installation thatdri captures the beauty and wonder of the night sky, it brings a glimmer of starlight right down to earth. The large sculptural piece slowly rotates to reveal stunning star patterns on the surrounding landscape.

7. Captivated by Colour, by Camille Walala, located at Adams Plaza Bridge, was originally designed as part of the London Mural Festival. Playing with the long perspective of the tunnel, the colourful design shows an optical pattern that shrinks and elongates as it moves across the bridge, creating a distorted effect as visitors pass through.

8. Intonaluci (The Light Snails) by Calidos, located in Crossrail Place Roof Garden, is a mesmerising light installation which is truly captivating. Spin the handle and let the spiralling patterns and lights draw you in and hypnotise you. This installation was inspired by the futuristic movement that took place in Italy in the early twentieth century where the artist Luigi Russolo created the first ‘Noise’ instrument.

9. Fragmented Appearances by Gertjan Adema, can be found in Crossrail Place Roof Garden. It is a mirrored spinning top, which casts spectacular reflections and transforms based on its environment. The multifaceted nature of the piece means that each viewer will have a different relationship with the object.

10. We Could Meet is the brainchild of London-based artist Martin Richman and can be found at Crossrail Place -1 Quayside. The work consists of a grid of over 500 illuminated acrylic rods installed in a water channel. As the lights change colour, our own colour perceptions change as well – red in a field of blue appears different to the same red in an orange field.

11. Elantica “The Boulder” by Tom and Lien Dekyvere, located at Crossrail Place -1 Quayside, uses discarded circuit-boards to fuse nature and artifice. By mimicking a natural rock formation with electronic materials, the boulder seeks to demonstrate our world’s tendency to create a digital version of reality.

12. You Exist, Here Now by Fandangoe Kid located in Crossrail Place -3, 'You exist' is a gentle provocation to encourage passers-by, office workers, young people, families, individuals rushing to a meeting or the tube, to stop for a moment and see themselves and those around them. The piece invites anyone and everyone to practice self-care in some of our most challenging times. It reminds us to value ourselves, and our place in the world, as we try to navigate it each day.

13. In[visible] by Daniel Popescu situated in Crossrail Place -3, is an enchanting tunnel where the very fabric of reality, which is usually perfectly replicated within mirrors, is compartmentalised, seemingly shattering and distorting familiar sights, including the viewers themselves.

14. Out of the Dark by Tom Lambert, also at Crossrail Place -1 Quayside is an audio-visual light installation providing space for self-reflection and positivity. The work creates a multi-sensory experience, offering a new lens through which to reconnect with the world and people around us.

15. Glories by Richard William Wheater can be viewed from Water Street. Three gas-filled suspended installations represent a glory, made of sunlight which is scattered back toward the viewer, through droplets in a cloud instead of falling raindrops. The three recreations of nature manipulate florescent light and electrify the air with energy.

16. Anima by Master in Ephemeral Architecture and Temporary Spaces (MEATS), located on Water Street, symbolises a collection of information, reminding us that we belong to a system in which, like the lights from thousands of optical fibres, we are all equal but indistinguishable.

17. Toroid by This is Loop is an architectural Torus form; made by moving a circle, in a circle, to create an endless surface of revolution. Located in Union Square, twelve giant mirrored hoops form a pavilion-like framework of 4m high and 13m in diameter that invites its audience to move freely and gather under.

18. Lightbenches by LBO Lichtbank can also be found in Union Square– comprise 10 benches illuminated through a programmed sequence, adding a new dimension to the experience of taking the weight off your feet.

19. Emergence by This is Loop can be found in Montgomery Square and is a large-scale sculpture conceived as a meditation of light and sound, made of multifaceted two-tone mirror and moving light. The piece forms part of the artist’s ongoing experimentation with mirrors, reflection, and light.

20. Florescent firs can be found in Jubilee Park. The stunning Fir trees transform the tranquil park into a magically multicoloured forest. Watch them as they gently glow and change colour, lighting up the surrounding plants and trees.

21. Crystal Greenhouse by Shared Space and Light is a definitive greenhouse that miraculously glows, sparkles, and transforms in front of the passing audience, who stop to watch in wonder. Found in Jubilee Park, the domestic scale of this greenhouse creates a juxtaposition with the colossal presence of the towering Canary Wharf.

22. Floating Earth by Luke Jerram, located in Middle Dock is a giant 10-metre globe installation that aims to create a sense of the ‘Overview Effect’ felt by astronauts. Common features of the experience include a feeling of awe for the planet, a stronger understanding of connectivity and life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.


bottom of page