Southend lights festival could become annual event

Southend’s inaugural lights festival could become an annual event after attracting more than 200,000 people to the city.

Despite the impact of Storm Eunice cancelling one night of LuminoCity, the event has been branded a huge success after it marked Southend’s new city status.

Council bosses have insisted the event could be even bigger in the future if additional sponsors can be found.

Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, said: “Looking at footfall and mobile phone data we’ve now got a figure of more than 200,000 people that visited over the course of three days.

Given the weather and the fact we lost a day I think is absolutely amazing so we’re really, really pleased with that.

“We’re looking at whether we can make that an annual event and if we can attract more sponsorship on the back of the success we can make it even bigger in the future so really a positive thing for the new city.”

The LuminoCity, Festival of Light, brought ten awe-inspiring light installations from across the globe to the newly formed City of Southend from February 16 to 19 funded by the Government’s Welcome Back fund.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “Southend LuminoCity brought together families and friends for a night of dazzling displays across the High Street and seafront.

“Seeing the faces of young children light up just like the installations emphasised the importance of having events like this in our new city, and I am so proud of everyone involved for making it such a special event.

“There were many challenges put in front of us but the excitement everyone had for the festival shined through, and it was an incredibly fitting way of seeing us into this adventure of being the country’s newest city.”

The council is currently exploring ways to bring back the iconic seafront lights which once attracted similar crowds.

Jacqui Dallimore, chair of the Southend Tourism Partnership, said: “It was incredible to see so many people visiting our city to enjoy the fantastic installations from world-renowned artists right here on our doorstep.

“The footfall figures are excellent, and the festival would have brought a much-needed boost to trade in the city centre and seafront, even with the difficulties of Storm Eunice.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter