Lightwaves 2021




Lightwaves is an annual 10-day interactive light festival presented at Salford Quays, home to Media City. Each December, the event attracts in excess of 400,000 visitors to explore a trail of illuminated installations that animate and transform the outdoor surroundings. With a focus on bold new commissions, the festival is proud to support international artists alongside local and emerging talent, with a growing focus on enrichment activity with local communities at its heart.

The festival is part of the Quays Culture Programme, a partnership initiative with a mission to animate public spaces, bringing extraordinary art into the heart of the community for everyone to experience free of charge.

Quays Culture also internationally tour a growing collection of innovative new commissions, inspiring audiences in their millions across the world each year.

2021 Programme Highlights

Floating Earth

An awe-inspiring artwork that provides the opportunity to see our planet floating in three dimensions.

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Cygnus – Electric Swan Ensemble

A mesmerising water ballet featuring 12 perfectly synchronised, glowing robot swans.

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Holographic projections transform public waterways into mythical underwater worlds inhabited by supernatural sea creatures and mysterious mermaids.

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Through No.4 - Lightwaves 2021

Through No.4

This six-metre long triangular corridor of light and colour designed to interact with sunlight is transformed into a jewel in the dark for Lightwaves.

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Mystery Bird

A captivating bird cage comes to life by night, inspired by our renewed connection to our natural surroundings following lockdown restrictions.

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A glowing interactive musical instrument with ever changing patterns of light and sound, bringing people together into a fun and spontaneous music making experience.

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Hive Mind

A reflection on what we can collectively achieve when we come together as a hive in the face of the climate crisis.

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Moths at Work

Come and meet Ray and Flash - two brave Disco Moth Electricians sent down from the Moon in the Sky to collect moments of fun, pride and silliness to beam back home!

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Digital Playground

A glowing copse of oversized, robotic flowers nestled within MediaCity gardens.

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Youth Culture - Lightwaves 2021

Youth Culture

A towering beautiful hooded sculpture; Youth Culture visualises visitor data it receives on mini screens and light illumination built into the sculpture.

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Entwined Light

An entrancing, multi-layered artwork that evolves and unfolds throughout the day-night cycle.

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This immersive laser projection uses sound and colour to transform its surroundings into a medative environment.

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Swan Songs - Lightwaves 2021

Swan Songs

A live performance of Swan Songs - a new, unique sound world created to embody the glowing robot swans, CYGNUS.

6pm on Fri 3 Dec.

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Public Tours - Lightwaves 2021

Public Tours

Sign up to join a free tour of the Lightwaves installations. Led by the team responsible for organising Lightwaves, you’ll have the opportunity to hear a little more about the artworks, ask questions and enjoy an informal tour of the festival with good company! Wrap up warm and join us on one of the dates below.

Art Guide Martin Glover, himself deaf and BSL user will lead two British Sign Language (BSL) tours of Lightwaves for the local deaf community and friends on Sat 11 Dec. Register below to book your free space and join us!

Lightwaves Trailer 2021

Light Up The North

With thanks to Salford’s Culture and Place Partnership.