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?