Let there be light: Sarum lights at Salisbury Cathedral

The dark evenings might make you want to stay at home. A good reason to venture out is the annual light show at the Cathedral 9-13th November. This year’s theme is the Universe and our place in it, to coincide with COP26 in Glasgow. Gather up the family and head off to The Close!

The show starts outside on the west wall with gentle musical accompaniment. The lights from inside also light up the windows and enhance the scene. The tree in the cloisters is beautifully lit so it shines over the wall.

Once you’ve taken in the introduction it’s time to move into the cloisters for ticket check and starry lights on the ceilings as you approach the body of the cathedral.

Inside, it is not the building you remember. A Saturn rocket changes colour as you pass through the south transept to the atmospheric lights along the south quire aisle.

Take a seat in Trinity Chapel to enjoy the show. This is supposed to be about human diversity; but trees, oil tankers and No. 5 are what I remember – perhaps more explanation needed?

In the north quire aisle add your promise to help the earth on a butterfly shape which will be added to the cloud of butterflies suspended in the north transept.

Standing in the nave there are two displays to see, first in the quire, then in the nave where fish, insects, birds and animals swirl around the walls and ceiling inspired by a passage from the Old Testament.

Before you exit, take a moment to look back down the nave at the lights reflected in the font.

The show is family-friendly and fully accessible. It is an enjoyable experience but could have been enhanced by more explanation of each section and guidance about where to pause and observe. Maybe the addition of some narration or poetry reading could be considered for the next occasion.


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