As LUMIERE 2011 draws to a close this evening, we have been reflecting on the event and wanted to share our thoughts on the extraordinary events which have unfolded in Durham over the past 4 days.
The second edition of the festival ends today at 11pm and has quickly established itself as the largest light festival in the UK. As many of you will have noticed LUMIERE has doubled in size since its first outing in 2009 attracting visitors from all over the world to see the 35 different art installations spread all over the city. We've been checking the papers and media and LUMIERE has received plaudits in the national newspapers and on nationwide TV, and the event has been broadcast across the world, cementing Durham's place as a cultural visitor destination. The BBC have had a lovely feature on their news channel rolling all day which you can take a look at if you couldn't make the festival.
As we anticipated, the popularity of LUMIERE has also meant that the city has become very crowded at peak times. Despite things being congested in central areas the overall response to the festival has been very enthusiastic: 90% of people surveyed so far have said that they have had a good or excellent experience, and 96% believe that LUMIERE is good for the local economy and 95% said LUMIERE made them happy.
As the festival organisers, we are delighted at the success of this year's festival and that it has attracted so many visitors to Durham. There have been many comments on this site about the way in which the event was managed and a feeling that the control measures which were put in place were inappropriate. Safely stewarding tens of thousands of people in a small area like Durham city centre was always a paramount consideration. We maintain that the crowd control measures have been effective and that the organisational plan - drawn up by professional crowd safety management specialists and approved by the Safety Advisory Group and emergency services - is robust. The police have confirmed that the event has passed off safely during the last three nights without any incident.
The plan is constantly reviewed in response to the live event as it unfolds, with visitor comments taken into account. We do acknowledge that some people have been unhappy at the very large crowds at the event and the safety measures put in place. We have read all the comments posted here. We apologise to those who were given wrong directions about which route to take.
We have advised throughout the festival that those with mobility issues, young children and anyone who is generally uncomfortable in crowds, should plan their visit accordingly and avoid the peninsula at peak times. If you have any of these concerns please heed this advice so that you can experience the festival in the best way possible.
We hope that everyone out tonight enjoys the last night of LUMIERE. It is looking very busy already. Please take your time tonight, be safe, and have a wonderful evening.