Thousands turn out for Barnsley’s biggest ever Bright Nights Festival

November 29, 2023

Tens of thousands of people turned out to Barnsley’s Bright Nights Festival this weekend, which included the busiest Saturday since the opening of The Glass Works.

In total, town centre footfall was recorded at over 81,000 for Friday and Saturday – marking a significant 27.5% increase over last year’s event. This included footfall of nearly 24,000 during the core event hours (5-9pm) – a 45% uplift on the previous year.

The festive fun got underway with the Christmas Lights Switch-On in The Glass Works Square at 6pm on Friday and was followed up with free live entertainment, exhibitions and creative art displays across Barnsley town centre.

Popular activations included The Light Looper – a giant deconstructed arcade game at Barnsley College – and life-size replicas of the TARDIS and Daleks from Doctor Who near the Alhambra Shopping Centre.

The festival concluded on Saturday evening with The Bright Nights Parade. A true family favourite, the parade saw a host of community groups and exciting art performers take the streets and journey through the town centre from Mandela Gardens to The Glass Works Square – creating a vibrant and visual treat for watchers.

Councillor Robin Franklin, Cabinet Spokesperson of Regeneration and Culture, said:

“This year’s Bright Nights Festival was one of our most successful events ever and we were delighted to see so many people come along and enjoy the atmosphere.

“It’s fantastic for the town centre and a great reward for the hard work that the events team has put in. The success is a testament to the collaborative spirit that defines our community, with multiple venues coming together to create two really special days.

“This is such an exciting time of year and we can’t wait to welcome thousands more visitors over the coming weeks, including for our first Christmas Market in almost a decade on 7-10 December.

“The recent years of regeneration has transformed how the public come together to enjoy outdoor events in the town centre and I think the fantastic turnout this weekend is further evidence that Barnsley continues to be on the up.”

Participating venues at this year’s Bright Nights Festival included The Glass Works, St Mary’s Church, The Civic, Barnsley College, Experience Barnsley, The Cooper Gallery. Parkway Cinema, Library @ The Lightbox and the Alhambra Shopping Centre.

Bright Nights is a member of Light Up the North, a network of light festivals taking place across the North of England and it has been funded by Arts Council England.