In the darker months of the year, many European cities can use some brightening up. Several cities, including our favourites, host special light art festivals in autumn or winter and we love them all! Whether the festival consists of projections on buildings or artfully created light installations, they bring light and fun to cities when they need it most.

Festival of Lights in Berlin

Since 2005, Berlin has been lit up every year by the Festival of Lights in autumn. It quickly became a beloved fall tradition and one of the most popular light-art festivals in the world. The festival consists of both light-art sculptures and projections on many of Berlin’s famous sights.

In 2023, the Berlin Festival of Lights takes place from 6 to 15 October, when sights from the TV Tower all the way to Potsdamer Platz will be illuminated. Every year the festival has a different theme, this year the festival explores Colours of Life. The festival will not only display different forms of art but also show how a diverse society makes for a better and more creative society.

A diverse society can only exist when values such as uniqueness, dignity, respect and acceptance are valued and promoted. That is why these values will also be prevalent in the art. Over the course of 10 festival days, 42 venues will host 85 different works of art by international artists. 

You can enjoy the festival on foot, though it can be difficult to visit all the best sights in one night. You can also take a tour of the city with the Tour of Lights from City Sightseeing Berlin, which will take you by all the best sights and includes multiple photo stops. Along the way tour guides on the bus will give you more information about the city in both English and German.

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Amsterdam Light Festival

Amsterdam’s annual Light Festival dates back to 2012 and makes use of the city’s iconic canals for its displays. This is why a dedicated canal cruise is the best way to see the festival. LOVERS Canal Cruises has been an official partner of the festival since its inception and continues to provide new and fun cruise experiences at each edition of the festival.

In 2023, the 12th edition of the Amsterdam Light Festival starts on the 30th of November and lasts till the 21st of January 2024. The themes of the artworks this year is LOADING…Revealing Art, AI and Tech, and asks visitors of the festival to consider the impact of technology and AI on the human condition. How we communicate, socialise and create has changed immensely over the years with the help of technology, whether that change has been for the better or not is up for discussion.

This year, LOVERS Canal Cruises offers three options to cruise through the canals. The traditional, most famous and popular Amsterdam Light Festival Canal Cruise, where you can enjoy the light-art from a comfortable heated canal boat, which departs from two locations just outside Amsterdam Central Station at the main LOVERS quay; you can also depart from the Loetje Restaurant in front of Central Station; or you can combine the cruise with a day time cruise.

Nobel Week Lights in Stockholm

Stockholm’s Light-art festival takes place during the annual Nobel Week, when that years’ Nobel Prize winners receive their awards. In the week leading up to 10 December, when the Nobel Award Ceremony takes place, several places and buildings in central Stockholm are illuminated by dazzling light installations, celebrating scientific advances and past Nobel Prize winners.

For the festival, international and local artists and designers create large-scale public light art which presents the impactful discoveries made by Nobel Laureates. The Nobel Week Lights aims to shed new light on subjects and locations in Stockholm that previously may have been unknown to visitors. As the festival sets up in the heart of the city, it is free of charge to visit, and a map is available on the festival’s website as well as different ways to experience the festival.

Copenhagen Light Festival

At the end of winter, in February, the buildings, squares, canals and other parts of Copenhagen are lit up by beautiful light installations during the Copenhagen Light Festival. For a little over 3 weeks, from 2 to 25 February 2024, light art brings brightness to the winter darkness. Copenhagen is lit up with the help of light based sculptures, installations, projection mapping, event and illuminations.

Most of the light art is placed along a path in the inner city and harbour, while other pieces  are located outside the city centre. You can choose to explore the light artworks by yourself or join one of the festival’s guided tours. The Copenhagen Light Festival can be enjoyed with a walking tour, Segway tour, canal boat or kayak tour.