Light festival

Following on from the success of our first Light Festival in January 2022 we are delighted to return in 2023 with "Voyage of Light".

Our popular Winter Lights Festival returns in January, thanks to additional funding from Arts Council England.

Light installations, exhibitions and experiences will take place at a range of locations including St George's Arts Centre, Town Pier Square, St George's Church Gardens, St Andrew's arts Centre & St Andrew's Gardens and Gravesend Borough Market.

Map of Gravesend town centre showing different light festival installations.

Find out more about the event on the Official Facebook page

If you require any further information about accessibility at this event, please email and someone will be able to assist.

What's on

St Andrew’s Quayside – Hourglass – presented by Emergency Exit Arts

The Hourglass features a story by Arji Manuelpillai, an interactive show that will help audiences to connect with the idea that we are all ‘one world’ and ‘one people’. For centuries people have moved from country to country.  ‘The idea of a border is a manmade conception dividing us and I believe that travel and migration are an integral part of our society. Something we should embrace and enjoy.’ – Arji Manuelpillai. 

You can find more information about The Hourglass on EEA’s website.

Atmospheric light installation in the shape of a large hourglass


St Andrew’s Quayside – Silk River Flags presented by Kinetika

There has been a strong link with the people of Gravesend since Kinetika's project Silk River in 2017, when they co-curated a collection of beautiful hand-painted 6m high silk scrolls depicting stories of communities along the Thames Estuary. 20 people will alight from Tilbury on the ferry carrying these silks and will parade them up to St. Andrews Church to be lit and installed for the weekend at 5.30pm. 

Dark street showing building draping colourful silk painted flags

Read more about the Kenetika project

St Andrew’s Arts Centre – Shoal of Fish by Mona Whitton

Every year millions of fish migrate, moving in schools, looking for spawning grounds or better feeding waters, always moving in groups, working to support and protect their community.
The willow tissue paper and chickenwire fish, are illuminated from within representing the voyage fish make, creating beautiful swirls and whorls of colour as they move across oceans searching for fertile breeding and feeding grounds.

Mona whitton shoal of fish

LV21 – Sound and Light

The historic lightship LV21 lights up the skyline at St Andrew’s Waterfront. A pulsating light beaming from her beacon, with wishes of Fair Winds and Following Seas to all voyagers from near and far. Using morse code and taking inspiration from the ship’s past role to guide mariners to safety at sea off the coast of Kent.

Red lighthouse vessel at night taken from the riverside, showing the front of the boat lit up.

Town Pier Square – Octopus’s Garden by Project Love

Project Love invite you to join them on a Voyage beneath the waves…a fantasy sea world, luminescent under the sea, using projection, bubbles and sound…in an Octopus’s Garden. With music and face painting this Octopus’s Garden will be a feast for the senses!

Colourful lit up octopus light show

St George’s Church Gardens – Rolling Down the River by Strange Cargo

Strange Cargo’s programme for Gravesend Light Festival celebrates the barges, wildlife, myths and music of the River Thames with lights, billowing sails, flocks of paddling swans, sea shanty voices and Old Father Thames bringing the majesty of the River to St Georges Gardens.

Strange cargo sails

Northfleet Frigate – Northfleet Big Local

In January 1873 “The Northfleet” left Gravesend bound for Van Dieman’s Land, full of hope – she never reached her destination as she sank in 30 minutes after being run down by a steamer off the coast of Dungeness. One of Gravesham’s most tragic seafaring disasters is commemorated by this vast lantern created by artists from Northfleet where the ship was built in 1853.

two people working on a lantern

St George’s Arts Centre – Waves and Sails by Filaments Arts Collective

Waves and Sails references the river and Gravesham’s maritime heritage. The installation comprises a light-filled paper-based floor piece in the form of waves, filling the windows and navigating the edges of the gallery. A large-scale, immersive installation of 10-15 “sails” are suspended throughout the main space. The light on the sails produces beautiful, changing reflections and shadows within the space.

light-filled paper-based floor piece of waves

Street shop windows – Ships of the Thames by Scott Cooper

Artist, Scott Cooper, will be installing ‘Ships of the Thames’ into shop windows on a trail through Gravesend High Street.  These wonderful creations give viewers a snapshot of different aspects of  the vessels that have travelled past Gravesend over the years.

Scott cooper artist

Scott's art installations can be found in different businesses in Gravesend town centre:

  • Afro beauty
  • Cult salons
  • Toxic angel
  • Aslamtex
  • Northman coffee
  • Julis creations
  • Caesars restaurant
  • Pad property care

Gravesham Borough Market – lantern making workshops with Mona Whitton and Sonnia Margarita

The Market is the place to come and try your hand at making your own lantern! You will be able to make your own silhouette, underwater lantern to carry through the light festival.

Suitable for all ages. 5.30pm – 8.30pm FREE

Historic Guided Tours – starting from Gravesham Borough Market

A free one-hour historic guided tour will take place at 6pm, 6.30pm and 7pm on both evenings. Your tour guide will take you around the different Lights and Art Installations, whilst sharing some snippets of history about the various locations.
Spaces are limited and can now be booked.

High Street Alleyways – Spot the Smuggler – Gravesham Theatre Guild

Meet some characters from Gravesham’s smuggling past!
Five and twenty ponies,
Trotting through the dark –
Brandy for the Parson, ‘Baccy for the Clerk. 
– Rudyard Kipling

High Street and other locations – Shrimp Trail by Melanie Davies

Follow the shrimp trail through the town. Start your trail in St George’s Church Gardens and follow the shrimp along Princes Street down High Street to Town Pier finishing at St Andrew’s Arts Centre. Don’t forget to look down the historic alleyways on your journey.

There are 50 shrimp to find and they all have a name beginning with ‘S’. Can you find them all?.

3 Crochet shrimp

Date: 27th January 2023 - 28th January 2023 Recurs daily.

Location: Town Centre

Cost: N/A

Time: 17:30 - 20:30