Weston’s GLOW Festival (15 – 18 February) was a sell-out success, with more than 20,000 people experiencing the light displays which lit up the main Festival site at Grove Park and additional town centre locations. 

Alongside Weston residents, visitors flocked to the event from the surrounding North Somerset area, neighbouring Bristol and throughout the region, bringing increased footfall to hospitality venues in the town. 

Taking place across four evenings through half term, GLOW welcomed a host of people of all ages, including families, friends and community groups in an inclusive celebration of colour, light and play. 

Now in its second year, GLOW shone bigger and brighter than ever and included over 20 stunning light installations and free, pop-up, light displays in town centre locations as part of a new expanded programme for 2023. 

GLOW light festival is the brainchild of Weston-based producer Paula Birtwistle. It was made possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England, the National Lottery Community Fund, Weston-super-Mare Town Council and Historic England as part of their High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme, as well as sponsorship from Severnside Community Rail Partnership, GWR and Bristol Water. GLOW was  presented in partnership with Culture Weston, Weston-super-Mare Town Council and the Grand Pier.

The event included iconic artworks, new showcase commissions and interactive experiences from a line-up of local and internationally renowned artists, alongside a wealth of work created by over 60 local creatives working in collaboration with over 200 community members of all ages. 

Paula Birtwistle, artistic director and producer at GLOW, said: ”At GLOW, we come together to provide a creative, joyful and illuminating experience that we hope can become an annual, flagship event in Weston’s cultural calendar. 

“It has been such a memorable event and I am so proud of all that has been achieved by everyone involved. Putting the event on requires the support of hundreds of people, from all our generous funders and the brilliant GLOW team to the local community, our Culture Maker volunteers and wealth of talented artist acts.

“This year, we chose to shine a spotlight on a wonderful array of female artists who showcased their inspiring artworks at the light festival, and worked with a mainly female team as they are under-represented in the industry.    

 “We have been overwhelmed by all the amazing, positive comments received about GLOW and how much pleasure it has brought to thousands of people. Huge thanks to everyone who came along and helped to make this year’s Festival such a special one.”

Amongst the magical mix of attractions at Grove Park were Illumaphonium’s ‘Halo’; Alison Smith’s ‘The Nectary’; Paula Birtwistle’s ‘Swing Playground’ and ‘Disco’; Bev G Star’s ‘Entwined’; Every Drip Every Drop by PYTCH and Flora Litchfield; Thingumajig Theatre’s ‘Ghost Caribou’, an act supported by Without Walls; ‘Laser Sky’ by PYTCH, giant GLOW lettering by Nina Thomas-Bennett; ‘Fire Garden’ by Felix Rowberry and a giant interactive ‘Seegull’ by Simon and Paula Birtwistle. 

Co-created community artworks included ‘Speak for the Trees’ by Sophie Shepherd with Off The Record and Youth Theatre groups; ‘Future Playground’ by Jasmine Thompson with Weston College; pop up performances by ‘From the Mud’ theatre collective and ‘Space Detectives’ by Weston College students; Dylan Barker’s ‘In My Head’ with Boombox; Shadow Puppets Theatre by Jeremy Hughes; ‘Tree of Lightopia’ lampshade installation by Helen Wheelock and South Ward’s ‘Create Together’; the UK’s largest bug hotel by Friends of Grove Park; PRIDE rainbow of trees; wicker bat walkabout; flag avenue; Bournville Lantern display and more.  

Town centre light displays included iconic artworks showcased at the Grand Pier by internationally acclaimed artist Chila Kumari Singh Burman and her new commission ‘Pigeon’; ‘I heart Weston-super-Mare’ by Paula and Simon Birtwistle; ‘Lasertonic’ by Flora Litchfield; ‘Mystery Bird’ by Helen Musselwhite and Illuminos; the ever glowing ‘Super Wonder Shrine’ by Morag Myerscough; ‘Nest’ by Megan Clark-Bagnall and young people from Walliscote Primary School and ‘Lighthouse Garden’ by Grow Feral and Andy Jacobs.

‘Pigeon’ has been enabled by 21st Century super Shrines, a programme managed by Culture Weston as part of the four-year long High Streets Heritage Action Zones’ Cultural Programme, funded by Historic England in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.