urban75 blog

Winter Lights festival in Canary Wharf: crowds, selfies galore and disappointment

Last week we went along to check out the Winter Lights Festival at Canary Wharf. Sadly, we made the mistake of arriving on a Saturday which seemed to coincide with Peak Tourist Selfie Action.,

Promising “30 spectacular light installations,” the festival runs until this Friday, 27th January.

It’s easy enough to get to – just hop on the tube to Canary Wharf – but you’ll probably soon get frustrated trying to find all the exhibits, with poor signage and a hopelessly vague map making it a frustrating experience.

Canary Wharf is a particularly soulless place – a dystopian corporate space patrolled by pretend cops who sweep away anything that doesn’t match with the shiny brochures.

The work on offer was wildly variable with very few coming remotely close to being ‘spectacular.’ Some were just plain dull.

Some of the work was taking place in Crossrail Place, which offers an impressive roof garden.

The biggest problem was the crowds, most of whom seemed preoccupied with capturing selfies rather than actually looking at the work.

I liked the illuminated benches, though you’d be hard pressed to describe them as ‘spectacular.’ ‘Gimmicky’ or ‘fun,’ perhaps.

This innuendo-laden creation drew liquid up to the top if you rubbed it hard enough.  Oooer, Matron.

The lighting in the mist was, frankly, a bit underwhelming.

Although there’s plenty of interesting architecture that makes up Crossrail Place, it’s a shame seeing it dominated by bright branding for the ‘Big Easy Bar-B-Q and Crabshack.’

These lights looked more like something off a fairground ride.

I quite liked these blue glowing sticks.

It wasn’t easy to find (the signage was dreadful) but the bulk of the exhibits were to be found at lurking in the -3 level of Crossrail Place.

Only problem was that it was absolutely packed by selfie-snapping visitors and ‘serious’ photographers who insisted on setting up their tripod trip hazards everywhere.

If you managed to squeeze past the crowds into the exhibits, there wasn’t much space or time to take in the work.

Here’s why it was often hard to get a look at anything – people would just stand in front of the work taking pictures with their phones or posing for selfies.

Here’s another nice-but-definitely-less-than-spectacular exhibit.

The best bit of the day was seeing Canary Wharf station again – it really is a cracking example of modern transport design.

Official Winter Lights festival.