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River of Light Trail to turn Liverpool waterfront into giant gallery

A giant rainbow bridge and 6ft tall 'floating' dandelions are among the attractions promised when Liverpool’s waterfront is turned into a giant illuminated art gallery this month.

The River of Light Trail – running nightly from March 23 to April 5 – will showcase the work of local, national and international artists in what is being described as a Covid-safe viewing environment.

It will be on show from 6-10.30pm nightly and people will be expected to wear face coverings, observe social distancing and follow current Government guidance on Covid restrictions regarding group size depending on the date of their visit.

March 23 marks the one-year anniversary of the first Coronavirus lockdown, and organisers say they want to “bring joy and light to residents in what has been a dark year for all of us.”

The 11 stunning works on show over the 2km (1.25 mile) trail will include a 100ft long, 29ft high rainbow made up of more than 25,000 LED lights. It is the first time the installation by artists Josh Zubkoff and Srikanth Guttikonda and which will be staged on the quayside at Canning Dock, has been seen outside America.

Light a Wish. Photo by Bart Heemskerk

Meanwhile Light a Wish features 20 6ft high dandelions which will float over the canal at the Pier Head. People will have the chance to share their own wishes for the future as part of an engagement programme running alongside the physical trail.

Liverpool’s Lantern Company will present All in the Balance – a kinetic artwork of butterflies and wild grasses and flowers - outside the Dr Martin Luther King Jr building on the Royal Albert Dock.

And nearby Castle Street will become a temporary home to Neighbourhood, a washing line on which hangs illuminated laundry representing communities from across the city and celebrating people of different backgrounds living together in harmony.

Liverpool’s Acting Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon, says: “Launching the River of Light Trail a year to the day lockdown in England began is a symbolic invitation to Liverpool residents to start slowly and safely rediscovering the city once again, and points to brighter times ahead.

“It’s been more than six months in the planning, and the team has had to think carefully about every aspect– achieving that balance of it being artistically, visually stunning and Covid-safe.

River of Light on the waterfront in 2019

“The driving force is to bring joy and light to residents in what has been a dark year for all of us.

"This outdoor art gallery will be fun, engaging, ambitious and thought-provoking and will hopefully give visitors a sense of normality in a year that has been anything but normal.”

The River of Light Trail is being delivered by Culture Liverpool with support from Arts Council England, FESTIVAL.ORG, Global Streets, National Museums Liverpool, Liverpool BID Company, Liverpool ONE and Royal Albert Dock.

It follows in the footsteps of the River of Light installations which were staged in November 2019 on the waterfront and in the business district.

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