Barcelona’s a great city for checking out all kinds of whimsical art, but earlier this month the city held a really special art event – the LlumBCN 2014 display as part of the Santa Eulalia children’s festival held in February. “Llum” means light in Catalan, and that’s exactly what this fantastic weekend was all about.
The city has hosted some spectacular light displays before, like a retelling of the Nativity story at Christmas time using cleverly illuminated pieces of the Sagrada Familia to explain the tale. There have also been art light displays during the Mercé festival that transform the city’s already beautiful buildings into true works of art.
LlumBCN takes that one step further, with around 20 squares, streets and buildings in the city center turned into interactive light art displays. The Gothic Quarter has a very cool atmosphere at night anyway, but the festival took it to whole new levels.
The biggest display was in Plaça Sant Jaume, where a series of fun videos were projected onto the town hall building. Some of the videos were funny and aimed at children, while others proudly displayed important pieces of Catalan culture.
Here’s one for the kids. Their lips moved and they sang a song in Catalan:
But my favorites were the videos that really used the structure of the building either as a canvas or, even better, to make the building look like it was moving and warping in front of your eyes:
Of course, a few were just pretty and exciting, like the fireworks show near the end:
But this square wasn’t the only place that was lit up. Some of the streets got a slightly creepy makeover, like one plaza that had a looped audio recording of disconcerting background sounds along with lots of small yellow square light pictures that looked like windows. Some had eyes that blinked and seemed to follow you. It was decidedly unnerving, especially in the cold, dark Gothic neighborhood with the wind whistling around the narrow streets.
There were also these little winding streets that got turned into a Barcelona red light district:
We finished off the night at the Bar del Convent, an old convent in the Born district that’s been turned into a cute little café. On the night of LlumBCN though, it had a decidedly more modern feel than usual:
I wish I’d had time to see more of the light displays, as I missed quite a few of them. But next time there’s a light art installation in the city, I’ll definitely be there to check it out. These displays all add cool light effects to an already incredible city, but the very best ones can give you a totally new experience of Barcelona.
Have you ever been to see a light art installation? What’s the coolest piece of city art you’ve ever seen?