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Summer Lights festival

Arguably the most popular free event hosted by the Canary Wharf Group — the annual Winter Lights Festival — had a muted response this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

With a hot summer forecast, and in a continued drive to host more free events for the growing number of residents, the group are hosting their first-ever Canary Wharf Summer Lights Festival.

Here’s a quick overview of what to expect, tips from past light festivals and ideas to combine with your visit.

What to expect from Summer Lights?

Similarly to previous light festivals, the event is completely free and involves artwork scattered across the Canary Wharf estate.

There are 11 large-scale exhibits. In a change from previous Winter Lights festivals, there is no dedicated start time for the lights to be switched on — avoiding peak hours — so the event will be perfect for those who want to avoid crowds.

The group provide a map highlighting the exhibits. While the permanent Canary Wharf Art Trail displays numbered exhibits, at the summer light festival there is no recommended route, with the artworks stretching from Canary Wharf Pier to Wood Wharf.

If thats too much walking, or if you are looking for a fun way to get around, the estate has recently been packed with hireable e-scooters as part of London’s e-scooter trial!

dlr train with canary wharf in the background

Tip: Short on time? — Why not take the DLR

Four of the 11 summer light festival exhibits are placed a short walk from Canary Wharf’s DLR station.

Exhibits are located outside, but there are plenty of bars, streetfood and Canary Wharf’s subterranean shopping centres to shelter if British midsummer weather catches you off guard!

When is the summer festival?

The festival runs between 21st of June and 21st of August. All the installations are permanent and located outside, with no tickets required.

Tip: The best time to arrive

As the first light festival held on the estate in the summer months, the exhibits are designed to be viewed in both daylight and after dark. As a result, many of the artists have tailored their artworks to transition at nightfall.

For the best experience, you might want to time your visit to coincide with sunset.

Sunset ranges from around 9pm when the Summer Lights opens in July, and 8pm by the time the event closes at the end of August.

See the exact time of sunset on your visit:

Meet the artists

While many of the artists are familiar with Canary Wharf — having exhibited at previous light festivals hosted by the estate — all the individual exhibits promise to be different from the Winter Festival shows.

One highlight looks to be Hugh Turvey’s set of 10 artworks created using X-Ray imagery of nature, on display at Crossrail Place roof garden. The diverse set of artists have created light displays across the world, from displays in the Middle East to neighbouring North Greenwich.

What to check out whilst you’re in the area

There are plenty of free events, sights, and experiences available while you are visiting the estate. Here are three of our favourites for a sunny day:

The Canary Wharf Art Trail is another free outdoor art exhibit, based around longstanding static artwork across the estate. Print a map and check out our full guide.

For a different perspective on the Canary Wharf area, from summer 2021 there are now three different types of boats to hire to explore the waterways.

Canary Wharf’s Summer Light Festival coincides with another large interactive art exhibit: Yinka Ilori’s pop-up basketball court.