River of Light festival returns to Liverpool waterfront for 2023 - installations, trail map and dates

Here is everything you need to know about Liverpool’s iconic River of Light illuminations, which span a two kilometre trail.

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The River of Light festival officially opens to the public today (October 27) after a special preview on Thursday night.

Record numbers of people visited the beautiful trail last autumn, with around 250,000 viewing the large-scale illuminated artworks, and this year is set to be even more special, with a unique Eurovision twist.

Three of the twelve installations with be sprinkled with Eurovision magic, in a nod to Liverpool hosting the song contest in May.

Below is everything you need to know about Liverpool’s iconic illuminations, which span a two kilometre trail.

How long is River of Light on for?

Liverpool’s 2023 edition of River of Light will run from October 27 until November 5. The installations light up from 5.00pm until 9.00pm each day.

River of Light 2023. Image: Emily BonnerRiver of Light 2023. Image: Emily Bonner
River of Light 2023. Image: Emily Bonner

Quiet Hour

On 29 October and November 1 from 4pm - 5pm, installations will be programmed to create a calmer environment for those who need it. The Quiet Hour is ‘designed to support members of our community with hidden disabilities and neurodivergent people’.

Do I need a ticket for River of Light?

Tickets are not required and the event is completely free.

Is the River of Light dog friendly?

Yes. There will not be any fireworks either.

River of Light 2023 route map

Here is the River of Light installation map for 2023, provided by Liverpool City Council.

River of Light installation map for 2023. Image: Liverpool City Council.River of Light installation map for 2023. Image: Liverpool City Council.
River of Light installation map for 2023. Image: Liverpool City Council.

Full list of installations at River of Light 2023

  • Emergence – This stunning installation has a meditative quality, focusing on the mood-altering power of light and sound with visitors being encouraged to explore the three-by-ten metre pavilion which is made up of mirrors and more than 10,000 LED lights. It will reflect its surroundings and a choreographed light show will be accompanied by a captivating soundtrack.  The work has been created by globally acclaimed artists This is Loop.  
  • Lampshades Bouquet – French artistic studio TILT have been inspired by everyday objects – giving them a twist of humour and poetry. Expect gigantic outdoor versions of a household lamp, curated in a very special way which will light up in a variety of coloursA bench at each bouquet’s base makes it the most unique location to take the weight off!
  • Elysian and Elysian Arcs –These two never-before-seen commissions will premiere at this year’s festival courtesy of Sydney-based design studio Atelier Sisu. Encouraging people to find joy in the everyday, a giant inflatable creation will allow people to walk around and through it as colour reacts to light and form. Liverpool-based award-winning composer John McHugh has been chosen by Atelier Sisu to produce a brand new soundscape for both the Elysian art works. 
  • United By Music – New York based design firm Yellow Studio – founded by Julio Himede – will bring its 10-metre round, multi-purpose performance space to River of Light for its debut, paying tribute to the music of Eurovision 2023 and promising a one-of-a-kind experience for all who attend. With a soundtrack including six songs from this year’s competition, it’s set to be a huge hit with visitors.
  • Ukrainian Dreams –  This brand new commission will see the vivid and wildly imaginative works of one of Ukraine’s best loved artists Tais Poda and RocknLight brought to life in an audio-visual spectacle. It will express the hope and pride of Ukraine through the wonderful work of Maria Prymacenko. Composer Dmytro Saratskyi has provided an original Ukrainian folk score to accompany the piece. This artwork has been co-produced with Festival.org and part funded by Arts Council England and Royal Albert Dock Liverpool.
  • Our Beating Heart – Art and design collective Studio Vertigo are bringing back ‘Our Beating Heart’ which glistened at Liverpool Town Hall during Eurovision. The heart shaped mirror ball will be returning with a spectacular dancing light show for the beautiful shimmering sight.
  • NOVA – Another Studio Vertigo piece, NOVA is based around a transient astronomical event which causes a star to quickly increase the strength of light it emits. Visitors will feel like they’re experiencing a ‘new’ star – mighty and dazzling.
  • Night Whisper – Sydney based art studio Amigo & Amigo are back for River of Light with European premiere, Night Whisper – a piece inspired by the dynamic movement of moths around light. Featuring a giant luminescent light bulb with multiple moths suspended in the light.
  • GLOW – This world premiere is the second installation by Amigo & Amigo and features a giant interactive light installation inspired by the cycles of the moon, with over 40 different sounds and animations, the audience is invited to move and play throughout.
  • Florescentia – From the Latin word for ‘blossoming’, Florescentia is inspired by the phenomenal natural transformations found in the biology of plant life and is created by Australian artists Atelier Sisu. The piece incorporates movement, light and a soundscape illustrating the blend of the mechanical and the natural composed by Miles Nicholas.
  • Labyrinth – This modular colourful Art-chitecture and temporary playground is driven by an exploration of the golden ratio and its connection to the Fibonacci sequence, once again created by Atelier Sisu. Each module of Labyrinth is positioned to create a unique colourful and immersive experience for audiences.
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