Discovering a city after dark adds something special to a city break. Don’t you think? Especially when buildings are beautifully illuminated or decorated, it’s worth taking an evening walk through a city. Over the last couple of years, light festivals are becoming increasingly popular and the one in Eindhoven is known for its cutting-edge light installations. It was time to take a look myself and visit GLOW Eindhoven.
Eindhoven is the Dutch capital of innovation and design. And when looking at the city’s history, it’s obvious why. Eindhoven used to be a leading city during the industrial revolution in The Netherlands and is still the home of world leader Philips. Since this company once was (and maybe still is, I don’t know the latest numbers on this) world’s largest producers of lights bulbs, and was the innovative force behind the invention of LED, Eindhoven is also known in The Netherlands as ‘The City of Light’.
Eindhoven was also one of the first cities to start a light festival in winter. The first edition, 12 years ago, was still rather small and only 45,000 visitors (mostly local) came to see the installations. This year, almost 750,000 spectators visited GLOW Eindhoven, and I was one of them. Some of the works really tood out to me, or have a really significant meaning to the city, so I thought I’d share it with you.
GLOW Eindhoven: projects
GLOW Eindhoven doesn’t only showcase large installations by well-known light artists, the festival is actually rather special because it gets the entire community involved. Eindhoven is the home of a prestigious technical university and college and students also come up with their light installations, as well as high school students. Every year they come up with artworks in different themes.
Celebration of the light bulb
Millions and millions of light bulbs were produced in Eindhoven, and in other Philips factories in Brabant, over the last decennia. So it wasn’t much of a surprise that a lot of art installations at the festival were dedicated to The Bulb. Next to the Philips Museum, where you learn about the history of the company, but also what Philips meant for families in of The Netherlands in the last century, the design Don’t break the sound barrier by Ellen de Vries/The Lux Lab consists of hundreds of LED bulbs that react to music.
Dirk van Poppel and Jan Fabel came up with the installation Blog the Bulb, a homage to the old-fashioned light bulb, before incandescent bulbs take over for good. The artists created their interactive piece because they believe ‘Eindhoven is not done with the electric light bulb yet by any means.’
Shine like the whole universe is yours
A short walk led us right along the Philips Eindhoven football stadium, which organised to gigantic light shows that evening. Tickets had been sold out for weeks, however. The downside of this festival becoming so popular. I should’ve planned a little better.
But a short stroll led to the Fatih Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Eindhoven and a pretty spectacular building, even without a light show projected on it. But during GLOW a light installation, named after Persian Poet Rumi ‘Shine like the Whole Universe is Yours’ illuminates the building in a magnificent way, showing that you can be yourself in many different ways, sometimes extravagant or sometimes subdued.
The Catharina Church: no blank canvas
Even though there were also loads of light shows on and even below the water surface, I found out I actually loved the light installations on large buildings best. This probably makes me very shallow, but seeing those grand projections just brings out the ‘oooooh’ in me. Har Hollands’ ‘Light over Matter’ connects the concrete structures in a giant building and the animation makes the lines of the structure almost fluent. Freaky and wonderful at the same time.
But everyone, including me and husband, is drawn like a moth to a flame to the Catharina Church where German artist Daniel Margraf transformed the church with his animation ‘Windows’. A lot of artists use a building or a square as a blank canvas, but Margraf uses the church as a focal point for his work, displaying the ‘stained’ glass windows like they are actual parts of the church. Some details are actually taken from religious window images, others are fantasy themed and form the perfect combination. The animation was shown on three sides of the church and it took literally ages to take it all in.
Visit light festival GLOW Eindhoven
- GLOW Eindhoven is held every year in the 2nd week of November. Please note that it can be rather busy on the weekend nights.
- You can fly directly to Eindhoven from various destinations in Europe (often cheaply!). Check the cheapest rates to fly to Eindhoven.
- If you’re based in Amsterdam, it’s very easy to get to Eindhoven. Direct trains leave every 15 minutes from Amsterdam central station and it takes approximately 1.5 hours to get to Eindhoven. Check train fares and timetables.
- Since GLOW Eindhoven doesn’t finish until midnight, it’s a good plan to stay overnight. Check the lowest fares in hotel deals in Eindhoven.
- Take a look at my advice to plan your trip to The Netherlands.
Do you like light festivals in winter? Which ones have you visited?
KatyNovember 24, 2017 at 4:38 am
I’d love to go to this festival Esther. The Netherlands does such a great job of combining innovation with tradition. I love the Catharina Church installation especially – bringing the inside out I guess! Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles
VickyNovember 24, 2017 at 12:30 pm
Looks like a wonderful festival! I love The Netherlans so I’m going to try and come over for this festival next year! #farawayfiles
Angie VincentNovember 25, 2017 at 5:47 pm
Wow what an amazing festival. The Catharina Church is incredibly striking, it must be difficult to know which bit to look at first!
EstherNovember 29, 2017 at 8:52 am
True, we just kept walking around it to check if we didn’t miss anything!
Corey with fifi + hopNovember 26, 2017 at 2:29 pm
What a beautiful find – I’d love to see Glow and all the different installations. I agree, seeing a city at night is such a different perspective. Wow, that church!! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles
ClareNovember 28, 2017 at 3:24 pm
I love how there appears to be a meaning behind so many of these installations – Art rather than just an excuse to cover the city in lots of different coloured lights. It all looks stunning to me and well worth the visit.
ElizabethNovember 28, 2017 at 8:30 pm
We were here too and it was incredible! You got lovely photos… i grabbed a few but was mostly trying not to lose the kids in the crowds. I still can’t get over how lovely the church was. Glad to discover your blog. Waving Hi from Delft!
EstherNovember 29, 2017 at 8:53 am
How fun that you were there too Elizabeth! It must have been fun for your kiddies as well.
ClemNovember 28, 2017 at 9:10 pm
This looks great! I love light festivals. I went to the light festival in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this year, and it was simply amazing. I love how they give the opportunity to local artists to display their arts in a meaningful way.
CathyNovember 28, 2017 at 9:19 pm
What an amazing light festival – there seem to be so many cropping up but this sounds particularly special. I love how creative much of it is, how people are involved and how they’ve tailored it to suit the location. The stained glass effect on the church is just amazing.
RuthNovember 29, 2017 at 5:04 am
I would love to go to a festival like this. I enjoy colors and vibrancy and I feel like this is an opportunity those at night. A lot of care and creativity goes into this. I am sure pictures do not do justice to the illuminations.
EstherNovember 29, 2017 at 8:53 am
Absolutely Ruth, with the movements and sound effects of some installations it is something that should be really experienced.
SarahNovember 29, 2017 at 9:51 am
That church looks so beautiful, and I bet even more impressive in person with the animation. When I was in Amsterdam recently I saw the opening ceremony of their lights festival and it was sooooo beautiful. Next time I will have to go see the Eindhoven one!
SaraNovember 29, 2017 at 3:45 pm
I’m completely fascinated by art installations like these, so I would love to check it out. (I also love photographing cities after dark.) It’s amazing the detail on the church and how it reflects so beautifully!
EstherDecember 1, 2017 at 4:24 pm
I was completely blown away by the details on the church, such brilliant work.
Sol SolntzeNovember 30, 2017 at 8:41 am
Oh, cool. There’s a light festival in Moscow each year, and I enjoy that but it’s nothing to the enveloping size of this one. Love that it’s a community project too. That cathedral is just stunning. Even better than stained glass windows!
EstherDecember 1, 2017 at 4:25 pm
But a light festival in Moscow sounds amazing to me!
Expert TravellerNovember 30, 2017 at 8:52 am
This is so fascinating. We’d love to see these amazing light displays. Thanks so much for writing about them.
EstherDecember 1, 2017 at 4:25 pm
No trouble at all! Thank you for stopping by.
IsabelDecember 1, 2017 at 6:07 pm
A friend lives there and I recently saw her instastories at this festival. Looks amazing!
hilaryDecember 2, 2017 at 5:12 pm
This seems like such a lovely way to spend an evening! So festive! I too like the projections on the large buildings. I don’t know how they do it, but its impressive and you are in no way shallow for thinking so!
EstherDecember 4, 2017 at 9:01 am
I think being an artist that makes light installations is an art all to itself!
JennyDecember 3, 2017 at 7:38 pm
I knew very little about this city – so it was interesting to read about it, as well as see it all lit up! How beautiful. I especially like the Catharina Church too.
MarcellaDecember 3, 2017 at 10:29 pm
How beautiful, this really is such a good idea! It reminds me of something I saw in the South of France many years ago 🙂
VanessaDecember 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm
That is such an incredibly smart idea to brighten up the winter! I would love spending time at the festival immensely!
The Globe TrotterDecember 9, 2017 at 12:12 pm
Wow! This looks amazing, Esther. A lovely way to spend an evening outdoors. My favourite is the Catharina Church installation – so beautifully done.