Wales’ biggest ever festive lights trail, Christmas at Bute Park, has joined forces with a host of home-grown creatives to make sure its 2022 event shines brighter than ever.
Visitors will wander this year’s trail to surround-sound audio created by local young composers, marvel at a host of illuminations made by locally-based lighting designers and makers, and benefit from the very best in Welsh creativity thanks to partnerships forged through the Ignite Cymru scheme.
Ignite Cymru is an initiative run by Christmas at Bute Park, with the support of Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Major Event Unit, to develop skills among local creatives. This has enabled Christmas at Bute Park to work with more than a dozen Wales-based creatives to contribute to the visual and audio elements of this year’s Christmas lights trail.
Students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama have been working on specially composed music for the trail, with feedback on their work from BAFTA Award winning composer, Sandy Nuttgens. An award-winning music creator and multi-instrumentalist for film, television and theatre, Sandy’s live work includes major touring productions, Tate Liverpool, the Olympic Torch ceremonies – and now Christmas at Bute Park too.
Students Millie Andrews, Darcy Cole and Jonathan Daglish have created bespoke audio and produced festively apt music that will be played to visitors during their visit to Christmas at Bute Park.
Millie said: “Collaborating on this project has been incredibly exciting, as we have been bringing together the wide variety of our compositional approaches and experiences throughout the development of our piece.”
“We feel privileged to be representing the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama composition department. We are grateful for the opportunity to compose for the event and wish to thank Sandy for the feedback on our piece,” Jonathan added.
Meanwhile, Llangollen-based visual artist Jessica Lloyd-Jones will see her home-grown creation light up the nation’s capital city this winter too. Her work will combine light with hundreds of translucent ribbons to create one of the 12 main attractions drawing in visitors to Christmas at Bute Park this year, and is called ‘Spectral Cloud’.
Jessica said: “It’s been such an exciting opportunity to design and make a new, large-scale outdoor art installation. The resulting piece has over 3,500 LEDs and 2,000 holographic ribbons, and I hope it will have a life afterwards, beyond Bute Park, so that it can be seen at other light festivals across the country over the next few years.”
Trainees at Pontypridd-based Citrus Arts have also been paired with expert lantern makers to create giant-sized versions of the lights for inclusion on the trail, and Wales-based lighting designer Elanor Higgins has been commissioned to light the wall of Cardiff Castle that sits inside the event area through the Ignite Cymru scheme too.
James Doyle Roberts, Artistic Director at Citrus Arts, said Christmas at Bute Park was a great opportunity for young industry trainees the arts-based charity supports to develop their skills and ambition, learn new techniques and share their work with a much wider audience, commenting: “It’s been a great journey for our Artworkers, who have drawn sketches, visited metal-welding workshops, learnt the practicalities of lighting the lanterns, and are now preparing to install them, all whilst working alongside experienced professionals.”
Dafydd Rhys, Chief Executive of Arts Council of Wales, said: “I look forward very much to exploring this exciting creation during the coming weeks and I’m delighted at the emphasis placed by the project on developing and training creative practitioners. It is vitally important that we encourage young and not so young people to follow their creative instincts and develop their creative and artistic skills.”
“We want the arts and creative sectors to continue to flourish and contribute to the health and wellbeing of us individually, but also our wellbeing as a society and as a nation. Our mission in the Arts Council is for the arts to be for the benefit of all and we hope that this project will benefit many thousands of people.”
Its work with Ignite Cymru is just one of the many ways Christmas at Bute Park has been working to deepen its support for local communities across the region after dates were confirmed with Cardiff Council for the event to stay in the city for at least another three years.
This year, the event is providing complimentary tickets to at least 30 charitable groups, working closely with AP Cymru and Cardiff City Hospice as its key charity partners, and raising money for Bute Park Projects, which last year funded new percussion and play equipment now permanently installed in the grounds.
Roxy Robinson, Creative Director at From The Fields, which produces the trail, said: “Our work with Wales based creatives through the Ignite Cymru scheme is another of the many ways we are building on our work with local businesses and communities in 2022 to bring about a magical experience from start to finish, for everyone.”
“We’re really grateful to Arts Council of Wales and the Major Event Unit for helping us to engage such great talent locally. We’ve been able to expand our network of producers to include a fantastic local cohort, who have helped us to deliver a completely unique trail with impressive contributions across composition, installation art and lighting design.”
From November 24th, Bute Park will be taken over by a stunning array of festive lasers, neon trees and flame-lit light installations that will remain open to visitors until January 1st. The 1.4km route is fully accessible to those with wheelchairs and prams, and aims to offer an inclusive celebration of Christmas for all the family.