York Mumbler Rebecca and her four-year-old daughter recently went to see the Northern Lights display at York Minster. Find out what they thought about it, plus lots of useful information in her review.
As advertised, this is a truly special and awesome spectacle, not to be missed if you enjoy the splendour of the Minster and have a liking for immersive light and image projection with intense sound accompaniment. Having recently attended the Van Gogh Immersive exhibition in St Mary’s Church, I found this to be of equal delight, however on a much larger scale!
About the performance
I attended the 7pm performance with my little girl, aged 4. The event itself is short enough to ensure we were home by bedtime. There was a fast-moving but long queue outside the Minster and I was glad that we had wrapped up, because it was windy and the Nave, due to its vastness, is chilly in the evenings. We filed in and everyone moved around filling up the space with some dashing to sit on the few rows of chairs on the edges of the inside of the building. We weren’t quite sure where to go or where to stand as we filed in, but it really makes no difference as all anyone needs to do it look up!
The event was really designed to be for a standing audience so bear this in mind if taking little ones. There was enough space to crouch or ‘bed down’ on the floor, but I’d suggest sitting or kneeling on a soft coat, blanket or in our case, soft gym bag, due to the hard and cold floor. There really isn’t much time to sit but with little ones there, they may well feel tired legs and want to sit to gaze up at the marvel this event really is. There was plenty of room for pushchairs and we spotted two prams with wide-eyed little ones ready to view!
The projection lasted 10 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break when we were encouraged to move around the Nave and gain a different perspective for the second viewing; this was the same projection and music show as the first, but I definitely recommend staying for this second round so as I definitely missed things the first time.
It was, simply spectacular
Animated images designed to fit with and reflect the shapes of the walls and the windows were clearly inspired the Minster’s stained glass and architectural features. The soundscapes were very powerful and effective; a combination of a song performed by the minster choir and selected biblical readings. In places, it was a little intense, (a loud thunder and rain scene, for example) and I feared my little one would be frightened, but darker images were momentary and soon brightened by colour and beautiful art. She was mesmerized and repeatedly whispered, ‘Wow! Mummy it’s amazing!’
The audience was mainly made up of adults but there were many families and children in some cases much younger than mine so I would say it is suitable for all ages. The area was in my view, accessible and there were plenty of staff supporting wheelchair users and the elderly. This is a truly sensory experience and was clearly inclusive for all, which is something I always look for at big public events.
One thing I would suggest is that once the event is complete, move toward the exit swiftly, as the Nave was very full and it took some time to file out of the Minster. Alternatively, linger in the Nave for ten minutes or so after the performance and enjoy the beauty of this building at night, so as not to wait in the crowds dispersing.
The event in a word?
Useful links & information
If you are even vaguely interested, you must go. Get tickets while you can, and if you’d like a bit more information about the venue and the lights and soundscapes, there are pre-show talks and tours, but tickets are selling fast.