Wembley Park launches its first immersive light festival ‘Winterfest’ this Christmas
Wembley Park, North West London’s cultural neighbourhood, will launch its first-ever immersive ‘Winterfest’ light festival on Wednesday 20th November. The free winter festival will see the neighbourhood transformed into an immersive winter playground, through a trail of specially commissioned, site-responsive and touring light and sound installations.
Straight from Nevada’s Burning Man festival, visitors can experience ‘Sonic Runway’, the acclaimed multi-sensory installation that will make its European debut on Wembley Park’s recently transformed, world-famous Olympic Way. ‘Sonic Runway’ was conceived by Californian artists Rob Jensen and Warren Trezevant, while observing the effects of sound at Burning Man in 2002. As visual artist, engineer, and musician, Rob together with his partner Warren have drawn on their skills of animating and engineering at Pixar Animation Studios in the design of the ‘Sonic Runway’. Music ripples down a 100-metre corridor of 32 concentric rings on Olympic Way, triggering kaleidoscopic patterns of light that move at the speed of sound. A bespoke music soundtrack will be curated in partnership with Boxpark Wembley ahead of Sonic Runway’s official launch night on Wednesday 20th November. After the switch-on, Boxpark Wembley will also host an after-party to launch Winterfest, where visitors will be able to enjoy 20 street food vendors and a whole floor of entertainment including the newly opened Zero Latency, the world’s first free-roam virtual reality e-gaming arena, and the UK debut of Bad Axe, a US-based urban axe-throwing experience in its first international expansion.
Digital ‘flocks of birds’ will perch on 36 newly-planted trees on Olympic Way this winter, through ‘Murmuration of Hopes’, a site-specific light commission presented by architectural designer Elyne Legarnisson and digital scenographer Aurelien Lafargue. The installation, displayed across 15 giant LED banners and across the trees, expresses hope through choreographed clouds of light, inspired by murmurations, the distinctive and intricate patterns created when birds flock.
‘Murmuration of Hopes’ continues on London’s tallest-ever LED Christmas tree, ‘The Hopeful Tree’. The 25-metre conical structure is illuminated by over 100,000 low-energy coloured lights, located on Wembley Park Boulevard outside London Designer Outlet (LDO). The walk-through tree will welcome visitors, residents and shoppers on their way to the LDO’s 50 shops, 20 restaurants and nine-screen Cineworld cinema. Visitors can walk into the digital artwork, as the gentle movements and unpredictable motions of the lights evolve over time, slowing down, speeding up, flying lower or higher, closer or further, dispersing and reforming. Throughout November and December, Wembley Park will present a curated music programme of live weekend performances, featuring Brent-based musicians and community groups.
Wembley Park’s Market Square will be turned into a multi-sensory playground with ‘Illumaphonium: Halo’, a series of eight, three-metre tall music-making installations by musician and inventor Michael Davis. Using sound, light, algorithms and digital sensors, Halo consists of digitally interlinked columns of ever-evolving patterns of light and sound that react to touch, bringing audiences together in a shared moment of spontaneous music making.
Visitors will find many other Instagrammable moments dotted around Wembley Park, including ‘LoveSpot…Under the Mistletoe’, a 3-metre tall heart sculpture adorned with mistletoe and pulsating red lights; ‘Star Box’, a giant gift-box shaped cube, filled with glowing golden lights and shimmering sequins; and ‘Saturation Surge’, a bold, colourful and geometric public commission by acclaimed street artist Maser for The Spanish Steps, connecting The SSE Arena, Wembley to the National Stadium.
Continuing the Christmas celebrations, the international smash-hit sensation musical, ‘Fame’, will extend its current run from the West End and play for a strictly limited season at the newly opened Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre. The critically acclaimed 30th Anniversary production, featuring the Oscar-winning title song and a cast of outstanding dancers, singers, musicians and rappers will run 21st December – 26th January.
Josh McNorton, Wembley Park’s new Cultural Director, explained, “We are really excited for Winterfest, a unique celebration that represents everything that Wembley Park is about; bold, dynamic and fun – everything you could wish for in one place. We look forward to welcoming visitors, residents and shoppers to Winterfest; the perfect Christmas playground in London’s go-to neighbourhood.”
Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said, “With Christmas fast approaching, Brent is extremely excited by the arrival of Winterfest. The festival will showcase the most impressive interactive light displays yet in Wembley Park while offering fantastic shopping, culture and entertainment. The free winter playground will provide festive cheer to families from across Brent as we look ahead to our London Borough of Culture activities throughout 2020. Brent is the place to be this Christmas and we look forward to welcoming everyone to join in the celebrations.”
Photo credit: Jordan Laboucane