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River of Light success shines bright

The fourth outing of Liverpool’s River of Light event has been hailed the most successful ever with around 150,000 people enjoying the free, outdoor trail over 17 nights.

Each evening saw thousands of people take in the 12 large-scale, stunning illuminated artworks which spanned a 2km route.

Celebrating the theme ‘Rhythm of the Light’, each work was inspired by the relationship between the city, music and light, and included commissions such as Dance Together – a huge tribute to legendary nightclub Chibuku and Light Piano – an all-in-one instrument and a light display which wowed crowds in the Mann Island atrium.

The popularity saw a boost in footfall in the city centre, with many restaurants and shops reporting high demand.

Liverpool BID Company recorded their highest footfall rates since the start of the pandemic, with 1.5 million people visiting the retail area during the October half term – and compared to the fortnight before, there was around a 20 per cent increase in footfall from 6pm each night.

Liverpool ONE also benefitted, with 15 per cent more diners at their restaurants, compared to the same period in 2019. And there was also a retail boost with a 44 per cent increase in sales – particularly in shops that sold toys, games and athletics/leisure wear. Similar to the BID area, visitor numbers in the evening escalated by 21 percent compared to 2019.

Following this year’s success, the Culture Liverpool Team has announced River of Light will return in 2022 for another 17 nights of beautiful, illuminated art from Friday 21 October until Sunday 6 November. The theme is being kept under wraps but it will be a nod to the World Gymnastics Championships Liverpool 2022 which will be taking place in the city at the same time (Saturday 29 October to Sunday 6 November).

Full details of the trail will be announced next year.

To take a look at this year’s River of Light gallery click here.

The 12 artworks were Sonic Runway by Rob Jensen and Warren Trezevant, Iconic Site by Sans Facon, Trumpet Flowers by Amigo and Amigo, Wave by Squidsoup, Fly by Night by The Kazimier, Light Piano 2.0 XL by Kleurbleur, NOVA by Squidsoup, Limelight: Saturday Night by Sans facon, Dance Together by Lucid Creates and Suzannah Pettigrew, Liverpool, Love Of My Life by Chila Kumari Burman, Spritework by Pastel Castle and The Pool by Jen Lewin.

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To find out more about the World Gymnastics Championships Liverpool 2022 click here.

Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, Councillor Harry Doyle:

“It now officially feels like Liverpool is back! From the moment these artworks were switched on, residents and visitors flocked to the waterfront to experience what River of Light had to offer and social media was flooded with the most fantastic images of the city literally shining. Even the odd night of bad weather didn’t put people off and the past 17 nights have highlighted the real appetite people have to get out and about and discover culture again, which is so wonderful when we think about where we were 12 months ago.

“After our hospitality and leisure sector was hit so hard by the pandemic, it has been wonderful to see the economic boost that comes with staging events. It feels great to be able to announce that River of Light will return in 2022 and with the World Gymnastics Championships taking place in the city at the same time, Liverpool will shine under the events spotlight once again.”

Simone Chua from Amigo & Amigo and is the artist responsible for Trumpet Flowers which was located in Exchange Flags:

“We absolutely loved presenting at Liverpool. It was our first exhibition since Covid-19 and it was wonderful to see the crowds play with the flowers and interact with each other. Liverpool is one of the most friendly cities I have been to and as an artist I have been made to feel so welcome. Thank you Liverpudlians for having us – it was a blast!”

Natasha Glassock, Assistant Manager, Fazenda:

“The impact of River of Light on Fazenda has been invaluable. In an area of the city that is typically quieter it has brought us an enormous amount of footfall and introduced us to new guests that had not previously dined with us. We would very much welcome the installation each year.”

Rebecca Haycox, General Manager, Liverpool Gin Distillery on Castle Street:

“River of Light was a great addition to the city, it was lovely to see the streets busy again with families out enjoying themselves. We saw a significant increase in footfall which was beneficial, as half-term can usually be a little quieter for venues such as ourselves.”

Rebekah Foot, Assistant General Manager at Revolution Bars Group:

“We have definitely seen the benefits from the River of Light especially during the half-term period with multiple families visiting the docks. It attracts a lot of footfall past our venue for drinkers and foodies – after the pandemic the hospitality industry is still trying to get back to pre-Covid, so things like River of Light lend a massive helping hand to boost our revenue and also reach a new target market of people. It’s also something different from the norm for people to visit and leave their houses for and all of the installations are so well done.”