• Sparkling Winter Light exhibition returns to illuminate the Southbank
  • The Winter Market opens for seasonal shopping
  • Free events for visitors of all ages
  • Circus 1903, Bring it On: The Musical and The Tiger Lillies performances light up our stages

Brightening up the riverside this Winter, the Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival features nine weeks of festive events, exhibitions and dazzling performances. Visitors of all ages can embrace the seasonal spirit with a packed schedule of activities.

Winter Light

4 November 2021 – 9 January 2022

The Southbank Centre will once again illuminate the site’s iconic buildings and the Riverside Walk with Winter Light, a free open-air exhibition featuring 10 lightworks from critically-acclaimed international artists that make ingenious use of light, colour and experimental film to touch on thought-provoking topics, from nature and technology to modern cities and spirituality.

Cedar Lewisohn, Site Design Curator at the Southbank Centre, says: “As the winter approaches, this highly-anticipated outdoor exhibition returns to radiate light and promote creativity. Building on last year’s success, we have worked with several international artists to curate a captivating experience where visitors will discover challenging and eye-catching works, exploring diverse topics and allowing for reflection after a turbulent year of ongoing change.

Located on the Riverside Terrace, Dichroic Sphere (2020) is a light sculpture by Danish light artist and designer Jakob Kvist. Lit by a single energy-efficient light bulb, it consists of an aluminium geodesic dome structure, attached with acrylic sheets and dichroic film and changes colour according to what angle the light comes from. The artwork is commissioned with the generous support of the Embassy of Denmark in the UK.

Anne Roininen’s light sculpture Car Show (2017 – 2021) turns cars into light sculptures which the artist describes as ‘a graveyard of cars’. Cars have gone from symbols of luxury to objects which divide opinion and are now as linked to air pollution as they are to the freedom of the open road. The artwork is commissioned with the generous support of The Finnish Institute in the UK and Ireland.

Projected onto the Royal Festival Hall’s exterior wall Oskar Fischinger’s Radio Dynamics (1942) mixes bold colour and various moving forms reminiscent of other abstract artists of the era, such as Wassily Kandinsky or Paul Klee. The work is a truly avant-garde piece of film-making.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s Forever (2015)neon sign is reminiscent of the 1960s visual style and the dazzling bold form of the word Forever signifies advertising’s subliminal communicative power.

Lis Rhodes’s Dresden Dynamo (1972) on Mandela Walk explores the relationship between image and sound. To make Dresden Dynamo, Rhodes applied a set of stickers to a 16mm film, which produced a range of curious sounds when the film was played.

Returning light works include David Ogle’sLoomin(2020), which features brilliantly-coloured neon flex creating a colourful canopy across the plane trees of The Queen’s Walk. David Batchelor’s Sixty Minute Spectrum (2017) transforms the Hayward Gallery and Queen Elizabeth Hall into a chromatic clock. Beginning each hour as a vivid red, the pyramid roof lights move gradually through the entire visual spectrum. The mathematical artistry of Zarah Hussain’s work uses the traditions of Islamic art as her foundation, creating delicate patterns and mathematical forms. Multimedia artist Teemu Määttänen remade Noste (2020) using projection mapping to layer pulsing colours onto minimalist columns. Working with an impressive scale and architecture, Noste was commissioned with the generous support of The Finnish Institute in the UK and Ireland.

The artworks will appear across the Southbank Centre’s buildings and facades, and along the riverside, from Thursday 4  November, with new work being installed up until December.

Winter Light is curated by Cedar Lewisohn, Curator-Site Design at the Southbank Centre, with Assistant Curators Kate Chadwick and Roula Carrol, and is supported by the Mayor of London’s Let’s Do London campaign.

Winter Performances

The Southbank Centre has a packed schedule of award-winning new shows and returning favourites this Winter Festival including Circus 1903 in the Royal Festival Hall, Bring It On: The Musical in the Queen Elizabeth Hall and The Tiger Lillies’ Christmas Carol in the Purcell Room.

Bring It On: The Musical from Wednesday 8 December – Saturday 22 January, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed £22.50 – £99.50.
The smash-hit Broadway cheerleading musical backflips into the UK, starring Amber Davies and Olympic gymnast Louis Smith. Inspired by the film of the same name, Bring It On: The Musical takes you on a high-flying, high-energy journey tackling friendship, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness – wrapped up in explosive choreography and tricks.

Tiger Lillies’ Christmas Carol from Tuesday 14 – Thursday 30 December 2021, Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed £18 – £25.
Combining grungy cabaret with anarchic opera, Olivier Award-winning and Grammy-nominated, post-punk pioneers, The Tiger Lillies, return to the Southbank Centre this Christmas with the UK premiere of a brand new concert inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Giving the novel a dark musical twist, the band dissect and reassemble the story that everyone knows to shine a light on the poverty and depravity laid bare on the cold London streets.

Circus 1903 from Thursday 16 December 2021 –⁠ Sunday 2 January 2022, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed £25 – £115.
Circus 1903 is back in London this festive winter season, bringing all the spectacular thrills and daredevil spills of the golden age of the big top. Expect acrobats, contortionists, trapeze artists, a death-defying high-wire act and sensational life-sized elephants, created by the puppeteers behind War Horse. All this entertainment is packaged into a show with a gorgeous vintage feel, inspired by the classic circuses of the turn-of-the-century era.

Free Winter Festival Events

11 – 31 December 2021

Families and visitors of all ages will discover an exciting programme of free public events at the Winter Festival, from craft-making to ballroom dancing. Visitors are invited to nurture their wellbeing with a series of mindful crafts while listening to the uplifting sound of choirs resonating across the site in Choral Crafternoons (Saturday 11 –  Sunday 12 December 2021). For those with a passion for dance, Five Go Jiving (Thursday 23 December 2021, 2 – 2.45pm) offers both accomplished jivers and total beginners the chance to whirl around the Royal Festival Hall’s ballroom floor. Bandleader John Bayley and a glittering line-up of musicians will present a mixture of jive, jazz, jump dancing and humour. Visitors can learn the basics before the band starts during a free class at midday.

Over New Year’s Eve, families are invited to join in early celebrations with the little ones as the Southbank Centre counts down to 12 midday (instead of midnight) at a Kids Countdown (Friday 31 December, 10.30am – 12.30pm). Ida Barr, ex-music hall singer turned comedy hip-hop goddess, will be mixing some tunes in a party featuring sing-songs, fashion shows, dancing and Auld Lang Syne. This exciting event will ‘see in’ the New Year without the late night.

The dancing continues on New Year’s Day at Folk Dance Remixed’s Ceilidh Jam,(Saturday 1 January 2022, 12-2.45pm) where visitors of all ages can join in for a fantastic high energy ceilidh dance. With vibrant hosts and traditional style calling, Folk Dance Remixed creates a foot-stomping, beat-boxing live music sound, remixing folk formations with legendary moves and freestyle grooves from Soul Train Line to Strip the Willow and Electric Slide.

Further information about these free events will be available on the Winter Festival web page shortly.

Winter Market

4 November – 24 December 2021 

A firm fixture of the festive season, the Southbank Centre’s Winter Market returns from 4 November. Featuring traditional alpine-style chalets and an array of seasonal pop-up bars and restaurants, it’s time to eat, drink and be merry alongside the river Thames. Indulge in festive favourites, shop for seasonal goodies, enjoy warming drinks and even dine in private igloos overlooking the London skyline; all under a canopy of twinkling lights.

More information can be found here.

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