I had my doubts about Greater Manchester light festival but 'northern lights' were affecting and breathtaking

The evening festival began last weekend and continues this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
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The promise of seeing the northern lights flickering over Bolton town centre is one I admit I had serious doubts about being executed. However, Borealis, a light and sound installation in front of the town hall on Victoria Square was affecting and breathtaking.

The piece, which projects swirling green and blue light into the air accompanied by ethereal ambient music and dry ice, provided the centrepiece of the first three days of the six-day Put Big Light On festival which is expected to attract thousands of visitors to Bolton. The evening festival, which is free to attend, began last Thursday and continued on Saturday, December 3. It will resume on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (December 7- 9).

The 'northern lights' shine above Bolton town centre as part of the Put Big Light On festivalThe 'northern lights' shine above Bolton town centre as part of the Put Big Light On festival
The 'northern lights' shine above Bolton town centre as part of the Put Big Light On festival

Another attraction for visitors is the Museum of the Moon, a suspended piece of inter-planetary art in the central library on Le Mans Crescent. The installation measures six metres in diameter, and features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents five kilometres of the moon’s surface. The moon, represented in such detail, gives a new perspective on something so familiar, but mostly so distant to us all.

The festival, which has been funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, also has street entertainment, a roaming globe and projector bikes described as ‘interactive off-grid audio visual machines illuminating the town centre streets’.

Next weekend’s centrepiece in Victoria Square is Evanescent, a multi-award winning artwork that has been exhibited in 24 different cities in 18 different countries. It is described as ‘bridging the gap between art and architecture, existing within the realm of ‘art-chitecture’.

Among those enjoying the Borealis shortly after it started was Ruth Syddall, from Heaton, with her two boys, Arthur, five and three-year-old George. She said: “All I can say is wow. It’s really blown me and the boys away. I think it’s spectacular and beautiful. We’ve been to a few light festivals but this piece is the best I’ve ever seen. “I’m quite amazed it’s in Bolton.”

Keyleigh Deasea, from Salford was with her daughter Hollie. She said: “We’ve just come for an afternoon trip and to see this is really special and unexpected.”