There seems to be a plethora of events and festivals in the Netherlands at this time of year, something to cheer the heart during dark, cold and wet days. Unfortunately, many of them take place outside, making timing very important. We waited all week for an evening that promised reasonable weather before getting the train to Eindhoven for the 10th Annual International Light Art Festival, GLOW.
Apparently everyone else in the Netherlands had been waiting for a break in the weather as well. There were thousands of people following the route around Eindhoven. At times it was a little overwhelming, but there is something very pleasing about a festival of light during the darkness of a northern European winter.
It’s no surprise that there should be a festival dedicated to light in Eindhoven, this is after all the birthplace of Philips, which made its name producing light bulbs. The light bulb installation at the GLOW festival is a nod to Eindhoven’s heritage.
Arriving at Eindhoven station it wasn’t obvious where we needed to go – a peculiarity of Dutch society is to organise really interesting things and then assume everyone knows how all it works. We followed the crowd, not so difficult to work out, then we found there was an official direction in which you had to see the installations…but only after we’d seen half of them travelling in the wrong direction. Oh well!
The installations were great, varying from a field of dandelions made from plastic water bottles, to a wave reflected in a canal, to films being projected onto houses. Not every installation was of electric light though, one spectacular artwork was called the Fire Tornado, which was essentially a man-made tornado of fire. You could smell the gasoline long before seeing the flames.
There was a great projection of Day of the Dead skulls onto the side of an apartment block; a giant globe with light projections inside it sat in the middle of a square; a beautifully illuminated avenue of trees in a park, called The Cathedral. It was all quite magical, especially if you could pretend the other 20,000 people weren’t there.
It took us a good couple of hours to walk the route, luckily there are food stalls at intervals, some selling Glühwein – the first of the season. We’d have stayed longer but it takes an hour and a half to get back to The Hague from Eindhoven and it was already 10.30pm. We made one final diversion to the cathedral which we were promised was a finale worth witnessing.
We had to wait for the next ‘showing’ but the 3D projection onto the front of the cathedral was definitely worth the wait. We bought €1 3D glasses and waited. Suddenly the cathedral was exploding with colour and movement, it seemed to deconstruct itself and then rebuild itself piece by piece. Basically the best €1 I think I’ve ever spent – 2D photos don’t do it justice.