Student plots Inverness’ first ever light festival

AMBITIOUS plans to brighten up the dark winter months in the Highland capital with the city’s first ever light festival - and bring a £2million boom to the city - are being touted by an ambitious 22-year-old digital arts student.

Installations such as this, created by student Natalie Smith, could feature in the light festival. Picture: Contributed

Natalie Smith, who hails from Inverness and is in her final year at Edinburgh’s Napier University, believes her ‘Light Ness’ project would breed new ‘life to the city’.

She claimed it could be a major tourist attraction to the north of Scotland, boosting the economy by up to £2 million at a time when visitor numbers are quiet.

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She said: “As part of my research for this project, I have been to a number of light festivals over the past two years, including Lyon in France and Berlin in Germany.

Natalie Smith, a final year student at Edinburgh Napier University originally from Inverness. Picture: Contributed

“Inverness does not have a creative event like this. This would be an entirely new festival, showcasing local talent over a short period of time each year.”

She claimed it could provide experiences for creative students studying in the area.

Miss Smith added: “I attended Les Fete Des Lumieres in Lyon, by far the biggest of them all. I also visited the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry and straight after, Berlin’s ten year anniversary of the Festival of Lights, before heading to The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh for Night in the Garden.

“Each of these experiences were based on a theme giving the user an opportunity to explore parts of the city they normally wouldn’t visit, while interacting with and viewing light installations and other pieces of work from creative talent around the globe.

“All light festivals I have been to have attracted people from all over the world. Even The Enchanted Forest, which takes place just outside Pitlochry, attracted over 46,500 people in 2014, bringing in around £2 million for the local economy.

“I feel very passionately about this becoming a real event and I’ve already had some good responses through social media as well as creatives, interested in exhibiting their work.

“This type of event brings together communities and strangers from all over the world and would benefit the city not only culturally but economically as well.”

Miss Smith said Inverness had no major tourist attractions, and relied on it being the focus point for tourists visiting other parts of the Highlands.

The top five tourist attractions in the region are outwith the Highlands, and include Urquhart Castle, Eilean Donan Castle near Plockton and Cairngorm Mountain’s funicular railway.

She is now approaching various bodies in a bid to attract funding to host the event in Inverness, and is inviting creative people to submit ideas online.

She said the event, if it comes to fruition, would be done through visual and digital arts designed by local talent.

The festival, she says, could be extended to all creative industries and hold other exhibitions in local galleries, such as musicians, sculpture artists, illustrators and photographers.