Nottingham based global touring company Architects of Air returned to Lakeside Arts Centre for their 25th year in early June for the world premiere of their new Luminarium – Albesila. There was no way I was missing out!
The giant inflatable sculpture was in place from 29th May – June 4th as part of the Wheee! Festival. It was my first time visiting so I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I had seen some pretty cool photos on the Architects of Air Facebook page and was really looking forward to it.
There was an adult only evening earlier in the week but I couldn’t make it, so we got up early on Sunday and headed down to queue before the Luminarium opened (without a ticket). If you’re going on the weekend, get a timed ticket in advance by keeping an eye on the website. With the timed ticket you queue for 5 – 10 minutes or pretty much walk straight in, so well worth being organised.
It was one of those lucky days with the weather and because it was the Free Family Weekend there were loads of cool arts and craft stalls for the little ones to get involved with.
One of the best crafts I saw there was a ‘make your own dinosaur costume’, it was really popular with the little ones and the creations coming from the stall looked like something you see on those super perfect Pinterest DIY pins. There were quite a few stalls with everything from music and dancing to an ice cream van to keep the dads (and me) happy.
What I didn’t realise (but should have thought about really) was that you can’t wear shoes in the Luminarium, so make sure you and the kids have got decent socks on if you visit in the future.
As soon as you get into the ‘air lock’ you get a short talk about the Luminarium and how it was made which was a nice little intro for the adults.
No lights are used in the sculpture, the colours just come from the natural daylight shining through the coloured PVC walls. I think that’s one of the best bits about it, when you look at photos like the ones below and realise that’s just natural daylight.
Once inside, every turn looks like another Instagram photo, and the colours are fantastic. A room can look a beautiful pink one minute and a deep red the next depending on where you stand. There’s also ambient music playing inside but the kids are really excited by the massive sensory overload in there so it was more of an excited buzz; which I’ll take over tranquillity any day.
We were given a little map before we went in but it was great just wandering around and exploring. The guide explained that the designs inside the Luminarium were influenced by Islamic architecture and the main dome in the centre was the best example of this and therefore one of the more popular stop off spaces.
We stayed for around 20 minutes in total (there’s a 20 min time limit at busier times) and I felt that we had seen it all properly at that point so it is a fair limit.
I’d definitely go back again next year and think as a family day out it’s a great cultural experience for the little ones and for £4 you’ll be hard pressed to find better value. Just book early!