If you fancy a couple of hours of free enjoyment and delight, then a visit to Canary Wharf is in order, as the whole estate has been lit up with 22 large light installations, including a huge floating planet earth.

Returning after a two-year break, the now-annual event drags people into the Canary Wharf estate to wander around for free at a time when the streets are usually a bit quieter, so a boon for the estate, and a free art exhibition for us.

A few of the displays are regulars, such as the glowing trees that are now in the garden above Canary Wharf station, and a few permanent displays, but this year most of them are in fact new to the show. Nine have never been seen in the UK before.

The highlight, based on how many people stopped to take photos has to be Luke Jerram’s Gaia – a huge planet earth that is usually suspended from ceilings inside buildings, but here is floating around the main Canary Wharf dock next to the tube station. In its waterly home, it still retains its curious ethereal effect as if somehow it’s a crisp clear cutout that’s been pasted onto a slightly out of focus landscape.

Elsewhere, the only installation to have a queue, and worth the short wait, is Anima, which is nothing more than a large box you walk through with “christmas tree lights” hanging from the ceiling, but it’s really good fun to walk through as the glowing fronds are pushed away by your passage.

The foggy lights in the garden are possibly more Hammer House of Horror, and the lights display at Westferry Circus seemed a bit odd, maybe too large for what it does. They also leave the christmas lights on the trees up at the same time, so the whole estate is lit up with lights at the moment.

Overall though, the whole display is an enjoyable evening out, wandering around the estate looking for the artworks. Staff at most of them hand out free paper maps to guide you around, or you can download one onto your phone. The paper map is probably easier to use simply because it’s larger than the small phone screen.

I took about an hour to wander around snapping photos and moving along quickly — so you’ll probably want to allow longer for a more relaxed wander. If you fancy a free night out, it’s very enjoyable.

The lights show is open every evening 5pm to 10pm until Saturday 28th January. If you fancy it, the ice rink in Canada Square is also open until 25th February, although you pay for that.

There’s also a lights display at Battersea Power Station until 5th March.

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One comment
  1. Steve Ehrlicher says:

    Having had the good fortune to see Luke Jerram’s Gaia and Moon in several venues in the South West, I think this placement is the least successful – unless you see it as an omen of rising sea levels swamping the lands.

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