If there are lessons to be learnt from Westminster Council’s ‘Sh*t Hill’ experience, and there are a few, it’s to be savvy how you spend taxpayer money when trying to attract visitors. And it seems that Sadiq Khan has taken one look at the geometric, barely turfed and publicly derided Marble Arch Mound and decided that the best way to bring tourists to London is with a light display. Smart move.

The Mayor’s office yesterday announced another feature, part of Let’s Do London, a £6 million campaign aimed at bringing tourists back to town, and the main rung in this phase of the plan is an art installation that will turn London’s skies into a colourful ceiling reminiscent of the Northern Lights (presumably this will attract people to London rather than make them realise that they could instead choose to head to, say, Lapland and see the real thing). The free “Borealis” art display takes place in Guildhall Yard in the City between 11th and 22nd December.

It’s a tried-and-tested winner, the same installation was a huge hit for artist Dan Acher when it came to the Tower of London, back in 2019, then again when it boomeranged back into the capital for last summer’s Greenwich+Docklands International Festival, turning the sky above the Old Royal Naval College into a mesmerising multicolour art feature. And now Mr Khan has reached down the back of the sofa and pulled it out again, this time to draw tourists from other UK cities to London.

Now Mr Khan has reached down the back of the sofa and pulled it out again...

Tickets can be booked through Visit London and we know from experience that it should be a good one! Presumably Londoners aren’t as welcome as out-of-towners, but they’re free for the snapping-up, so get there first!

The show forms one part of the light spectacular coming to London, and it will be joined by bridges, buildings and trees along the Thames being professionally lit up not to mention light displays in both Canary Wharf and the Tower of London.

The Canary Wharf display, dubbed Canary Wharf Winter Lights Spectacular is, again, free and includes 20 new light commissions by global artists, not to mention an ice rink and an outdoor food market.

In Mayfair's Grosvenor Square fashion designer Anya Hindmarch has created an Ever After Garden...

Over in Mayfair’s Grosvenor Square fashion designer Anya Hindmarch has created an Ever After Garden. Meanwhile the ongoing ‘Illuminated River’ project, the longest art project in the world, has now reached nine bridges.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan greeted his £6 million programme, saying “The Borealis spectacular will bring the magic of the Northern Lights to our city, London’s landmark bridges, buildings and trees will be illuminated along the Southbank and our world-famous Christmas lights, ice rinks and markets will ensure our city is gloriously decked out for Londoners and visitors to enjoy”.

I’m urging Londoners and visitors to experience the best our capital has to offer...

Continuing “All this and more is taking place in the heart of our great city as part of my ‘Let’s Do London’ campaign. From our world-class shops and attractions, to our incredible restaurants and bars there is so much to see and enjoy this festive season and that’s why I’m urging Londoners and visitors to experience the best our capital has to offer and support our hospitality industry as much as possible.”

With London’s New Year’s Eve extravaganza, broadcast to tens of millions of viewers worldwide as well as bringing in tens of thousands of domestic visitors, cancelled this year let’s hope this is a strategically well spent £6 million. And not another Mound…

Book tickets for Borealis here (it’s free)…


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