Kidadler Review: Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival


For 10 days only, Canary Wharf is being transformed for its annual Winter Lights Festival. Now on its sixth year running and featuring pieces from 26 international artists, it’s sparklingly clear why this immersive light trail is award-winning!

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After a day of Kidadling from my desk at our Tower Bridge offices, I wrapped up warm and ventured out to the Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival for a refreshingly cold night of January delight. With over 25 light installations to explore amongst the glass skyscrapers and funky open-air squares, we knew we were in for a real treat as we were greeted off the tube with an array of neon lights. Every light piece was different and immersive in its own way, but they were all so beautifully bright and offered the perfect opportunity for tonnes of truly memorable family photos and creative videos.

canary wharf winter lights festival

The ‘festival’ was filled with lots of families enjoying the interactive installations which were great for young children, including elements like heat sensored lights that changed at the touch of your hand, a trail of glowing neon benches and ponds filled with floating balls of light that kids could fish out, bounce around and make mesmerising rainbow ripples with! For older teens and adults, there was also a wonderful ‘bra tree’ to commemorate and raise awareness for breast cancer, which included an easy tap-and-donate function to donate £1 from your contactless card or Apple Pay should you want to! 

canary wharf winter lights festival

The fun didn’t stop outside though - if you need a few minutes respite from the chilly January evening (which we did!) then you can step into Jubilee Place to find the few indoor installations hidden around there. These were ones not to miss with a game-controlled stream of flashing metallic lights that the kids will love, and a geometric crystal dome to step inside one at a time to experience an interactive illusion of mirrors and colour. We also came across one final piece (number 25!) with a long queue of curious explorers waiting to go behind it’s mysterious black-out curtain, but we unfortunately didn’t have time to enter it! I’m dying to know what was hidden inside, so be sure to go and discover it yourself and feed back to us Kidadlers! Jubilee Place also has tonnes of family-friendly restaurants if you want to make an evening of it (we can recommend The Vurger Co. whose delicious plant-based burgers certainly warmed us up!), or you can head to the Winter Lights Bites vendors for street food and hot drinks to keep you cosy.

If you’re nearby Canary Wharf I definitely recommend popping by the free Lights Festival for an evening of dazzling immersive fun to brighten up those winter nights! One Kidadler tip - the installations are not all grouped together so if you’re in it for the whole show then wrap up warm and grab a handy map from one of the many helpers to create your own trail and tick them off as you go! 

The festival is only running until the Saturday 25th, so be sure not to miss it and share your experiences with us @kidadl #kidadl! 

canary wharf winter lights festival