Spotlight on Lights in Alingsås

60 students.  1 city.  5 nights.

No, it’s not a university night out gone wrong.  This is the start of the Lights in Alingsås festival, where each year students from around the world descend on the town in Sweden for 1 week to work with lighting designers and other professionals on creating the best outdoor light instillations they can.


Their design week starts today, the 21st September for 2015, with the actual festival being opened to the public on the 25th September ( this Friday!) until the 1st November.  The festival is meant to be both educational and fun for all ages, and to give these design students a chance to put their theoretical knowledge to the ultimate creative test, learning from a host of experts.  There will be a total of 7 instillations around the city, and with only 5 days to create them, there is the added mystery and spectacle of no-one knowing just what the festival is going to look like until the day of it’s opening.


The festivals origins could be seen as accidental.  In 1999, students from HDK, Jönköping University and Gothenburg University started experimenting with different lighting designs for public buildings in  Alingsås.  This gave the festival it’s scale and outdoor location, made especially relevant by the city’s dark winters which provide the perfect backdrop for the lights show.  In 2000, the municipality of the town set up agreements with the Professional Lighting Designer’s Association (PLDA), who have brought the international community of lighting into closer contact with the festival.  This agreement is also what makes the festival more than a light show, but a learning tool for keen students to develop their skills in the real world.    Now, nearly 120 people work from the summer months onwards getting everything set up for the arriving workshop, showing just how far it has developed.

2012 LiA

The theme that the instillations will be centred around this year is the ‘Evolution of Light’, especially focussing on how light can be used in smart and efficient ways.  This theme is not simply coincidence; this year is UNESCO’s International Year of Light and so the festival made the decision to join in the celebrations and spread the message of the importance of light.   As this is the largest lighting event in public spaces in the whole of Northern Europe, the festival has an opportunity to reach a wide audience who might not of otherwise known about the International Year, and get people engaged into thinking more about how light and light-based technology works.  The lights this year are going to span over a vast amount of time, giving the participants plenty of space for interpretation and innovation.  However, as well as the mentors, expert Jan Ejhed from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, who ran the workshop in 2012, is on board to provide the relevant scientific facts for parts of the lighting story.  He, along with Project Manager, Margaretha Stenmark from Alingsås energi, are in charge of inspiring and motivating the various teams and designers creating the instillations.


Past themes have ranged from the works of H.C. Andersen and his fairytale worlds, to ‘Everything Under Control’ which used dimmable technology, to the classical music of Edvard Grieg last year.  After the success of last years collaboration, music will still be part of the spectacle, with the German composer Sebastian Studinitzky leading the process.  The aim is to create sound experience booths to enhance the mood of the light instillations and the public’s interaction with them.

The town offers guided tours through each of the instillations, or a map for those who want to simply wander.  Every year, the town greets 85,000 people, and it is expected only to grow.  We can’t wait to see what the designers come up with this year, and for many years to come.


Further Resources:

Read more about the International Year of Light:

Find out more from the Lights in Alingsås website:

Follow the #lightsinalingsas and go check out their instagram ( throughout the festival for more amazing images.


Abigail Houseman

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