Festive illuminations dazzle visitors to popular attraction

ONE of the North-East’s premier tourist attractions is lighting up Christmas thanks to an exciting new creative partnership and stunning concepts by local artists.

‘Illuminating Ushaw’ features a new series of festive artworks unveiled at Ushaw Historic House, Chapels and Gardens.

An illuminated Christmas trail has been created by Hartlepool-based Artistic Solutions, and leads through the iconic location’s immaculate gardens, showcasing festive scenes including a nativity, a snowman parade, Christmas trees, and the North Pole.

The Rose Window replica on display at Ushaw

Daniel Brobbel, from Artistic Solutions, said: “It’s been really nice to work with Ushaw on this. It has been a real highlight of our year, and we look forward to doing more with them in the future.”

The latest activities at Ushaw have been supported by the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage – being delivered by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England, using funds provided by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Illuminating Ushaw also includes two large-scale installations created by acclaimed North-East artists, as well as a merry and bright Christmas trail through Ushaw’s extensive gardens.

Among the highlights are a recreation of Durham Cathedral’s world-famous rose window, and the transformation of Ushaw’s main building into a giant advent calendar.

The replica of the rose window, which first appeared at Durham’s Lumiere festival in 2015, is built from hundreds of recycled plastic bottles, and was created by Durham artist Mick Stephenson.

Artist Mick Stephenson with the Rose Window replica.

He said: “It’s been an incredibly strange year, but it’s just such a privilege to be working at Ushaw, to be installing artwork, and to be showing the rose window again – I hope it brings a bit of hope and joy to us all.”

Hartlepool artist Stuart Langley has also returned to again transform Ushaw’s façade into an astounding kaleidoscope of colour by installing neon artworks into the building’s many windows, creating a giant illuminated advent calendar.

He has also designed a series of stained-glass windows that are hung in the trees surrounding the building.

Stuart said: “The idea behind the installations is to create digital content for projects and neon artworks based on Ushaw itself, so we’re hoping to give people a glimpse into the vast array of culture and art of this place.

Light artist Stuart Langley at Ushaw

“I feel very fortunate to be able to exhibit my art here at Ushaw again. It’s just nice for people to be able to come and enjoy the surroundings and see a little bit of magic, and maybe see a little bit of hope at a time when things are difficult.”

Lucy Jenkins, Ushaw’s director of culture and heritage, said: “Illuminating Ushaw is a great example of how creative businesses work collaboratively. It’s a pleasure to work with Stuart and Mick, and to partner with Artistic Solutions to realise Illuminating Ushaw.

“We’ve never done anything on this scale before, and the response has been amazing. It’s really given us a taste of what we could do in the future.

“I want to thank Mick, Stuart, Dan, and all the people behind them for making this such a special Christmas and lighting up what has been quite a dark year for us all.”

Illuminating Ushaw runs until December 20 and entry costs £5 per adult, with under 16s free and special discounts for local residents. Parking costs £3 per car. Visit ushaw.simpletix.co.uk to purchase tickets.

  • If you can’t get a ticket for the evening events the festive scenes can be seen during the day without the illuminations and children can take part in a Christmas puzzle trail along the route.

Ushaw is open every day from 10am to 3pm and is only closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve.