If you’ve been down to New Market Square this December you’ll have found yourself amongst all of the Christmas fun. Alongside the free entry Santa’s Grotto is a giant inflatable sphere, four metres across, glowing with intense colours and imagery… this is LightWeight. We found out more about it in this week’s BID Spotlight feature.

The unique and interactive installation is located alongside Santa in the Square, a free Christmas experience provided by Leicester City Council and run by Leicester Markets, with the specially commissioned twilight show enchanting people of all ages. Watch as video and animation effects spin magically around the entire surface and as the inflatable sphere glows, you can even see the faces of you and your friends appear in the quirky animations.

All you need to do is strike a pose in the face-recognition camera booth sitting alongside the sphere. Your image could develop as a flock of mischievous angels flapping across Leicester, or perhaps you’ll appear as the face of another quirky animated character? Whichever you become it’s certainly sure to provide lots of festive entertainment!

Credit Matt Short Photography

LightWeight is presented by BID Leicester and so we also caught up with Marketing Officer, Sarinda, to find out a little more.

Where did the concept for LightWeight come from?

LightWeight is a four metre high inflated sphere lit with intense translucent colours, projected videos, animations and visual effects that spin magically around the outside of the globe, all set to enchanting music from hidden speakers. The artwork itself was created by Impossible Arts, and has been on show at Light Festivals in places like Berlin, London and York in the past. We brought LightWeight to the city for the first time last year and it was really popular, so it’s great to bring it back and hopefully have more people discover its wonders this year.

Where can people find the installation?

The installation will be in New Market Square, every day from 12th – 21st December, from 5pm to 10pm. It’s great for all ages, but particularly for families and children who will love the interactive elements. The Square as a whole is a great stop for families this year – the beautiful Santa’s Grotto is back and is free for families for visit, and there is a fair ground ride as well as LightWeight in the evenings. 

You can also see yourself animated within the display, how does this work?

This is my favourite part of the installation! Nearby there is a small booth with a special face-recognition camera inside. Visitors can strike a pose in front of the camera – silly faces are compulsory! The camera then animates your face and maps it onto the images that appear on the globe. 

Your face might appear on a snowman, a flock of winged angels, or another Christmas character. It’s really fun to see the reaction when people spot their face spinning round the globe – and children love to run around following their own image! Depending on how busy it is, your portrait will be on the globe for 2 to 3 minutes, so there’s plenty of time to get a picture.

Credit Matt Short photography

How important are the Christmas events within the city’s annual calendar?

Christmas is always an important time for any city centre. We’re lucky in Leicester that we have so many leisure activities at this time of year for people to enjoy as well as great shops and restaurants.

There are festive shows and pantomimes, ice skating and the big wheel. We’re proud to offer events like LightWeight for free for everyone to be able to enjoy. It’s brilliant to have so much choice available for residents and visitors alike.

The LightWeight installation once again shines a light on New Market Square, how is the space being received by the public?

The space looks fantastic now complete and has already proven itself as a great place for events that are popular with the public. Just this year there have been two breath-taking, large-scale projection shows in the space, there was the Mods scooter rally, outdoor cinema screenings, food markets and much more. 

With the walkway from New Market Square to Town Hall Square also open in time for the festive season it feels like a more connected and visible space in the city centre than it has done previously. 

From our experience, the city council is always keen to work with partners like BID Leicester and other organisations to animate the city, so I’m sure there will be a lot more exciting things to come for New Market Square in 2020 and beyond.

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas in Leicester?

Ooh that’s difficult, I love Christmas! I make sure to see a Christmas show every year and visit the ice rink, but my favourite thing is when I’m walking around the city centre and see lovely shop window decorations that business owners put together – they are very creative people and the wonderful displays show their passion for what they do.

It’s hard to pick out favourites but Flowerworks on Loseby Lane and The Bottle Garden are always beautifully presented – but there are so many more! I think the Christmas tree by the Clock Tower looks especially good this year with new decorations and warm lights. Walking around, it’s hard not to get swept away in the festive spirit!

Credit Matt Short Photography

LightWeight will be in New Market Square, every day from 12 – 21 December, from 5pm to 10pm, alongside Santa in the Square. All activities in New Market Square are free of charge. You can also visit the official Facebook event page for LightWeight here.


Our BID Spotlight features are brought to you in collaboration with BID Leicester.

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