Lumiere London: The Capital’s First Light Festival

London has joined the growing list of cities around the world to host their very own festival of lights. Dubbed Lumiere London, the festival saw 30 artist-created light installations placed around the city for spectators to enjoy. Despite the chilly night air and it being London’s first foray into the world of Lumiere festivals, thousands turned out to point and marvel at the elaborate illuminations.

Lumiere London – See the city in a new light

Jade and I couldn’t resist joining the light-loving crowds ourselves. We started our walk on Piccadilly to watch some huge illuminated fish (Luminéoles by Porté par le vent) dance and swoop above our heads to atmospheric music. They were originally created for Fete des Lumières Lyon in France, the most famous of all the world’s Lumiere festivals.

Lumineoles on Piccadilly

185 Piccadilly

Occasionally, the music would be interrupted by the sound of an angry elephant. The sound belonged to a huge projection of an elephant (Eléphantastic! by Topla-design ©️ Catherine Garret) over a nearby alleyway. From one end you could see the elephant from the front, while at the other end of the alleyway, another projection showed the elephant from the rear.

Stick men made from florescent tubes seemingly bounced about, chased one another and danced to music and comedic sound effects.

We walked down an adjacent alleyway to see Voyageurs (The Travellers) by French artist Cédric Le Borgne. The travellers were a series of illuminated human forms frozen in flight above the street. These figures had already traveled from Toulouse to Geneva and Seoul, bringing a sense of reality to their name.

Lumiere London Sign

1.8 London

We then headed down the upmarket shopping parade that is Regent Street, normally busy with traffic, now completely closed for the festival. Here we discovered Keyframes by Groupe LAPS. This was our favourite of all the installations we watched and drew quite a large audience. Stick men made from florescent tubes seemingly bounced about, chased one another and danced to music and comedic sound effects. We really liked the sense of fun and were impressed by the effort and imagination that must have gone into its creation.

Northwards we walked to Oxford Circus where a huge jellyfish-like object (1.8 London by Janet Echelman / Studio Echelman) had been hoisted above the famous traffic intersection. Signs gave instructions on how to interact with the piece, but it didn’t seem to work when we tried. The piece was named after one of the astonishing impacts of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

“Such was the strength of the vibrations, the earthquake momentarily sped up the earth’s rotation and shortened that day by 1.8 microseconds. Using data from NASA, Studio Echelman turned this phenomenon into a 3D image, the basis of which was used to create the shape of this piece.”

From Oxford Circus, we took the tube to Kings Cross where a large concentration of illuminations had been installed. We managed to watch part of a huge circus themed projection (Circus of Light by Ocubo) but didn’t get much further. By this point, the crowds got the better of us and we abandoned any idea of seeing any of the other displays. The sheer number of people on the street made navigating a nuisance. We were lucky. So many showed up the following night of the festival, organisers were forced to switch of the displays temporarily in order to reduce the swell.

Circus of Light, Kings Cross

Sadly, this is now a common problem with events being held in London. Large events in the centre of the city always attracts huge numbers of people. For street-based events, getting around can become troublesome.

Despite the crowds, we enjoyed walking around the traffic-free streets and seeing the displays. Perhaps next time though, the installations should be in place for a week or two rather than four nights, in order to reduce any chances of disruption.

 

The Best Way of Seeing Salzburg is by Segway

There’s no avoiding it – cruising around the UNESCO protected medieval streets of Salzburg on a Segway will make you look like an invading robot army platoon. This juxtaposition of old meets new is probably why you’ll get a few angry and disgusted looks from locals as you sail past them. Don’t worry though, as neither of these things actually matter. You’ll be having far too much fun to care, safe in the knowledge that seeing Salzburg by Segway is easily the best way of introducing yourself to this incredibly pretty city.

Salzburg Panorama

At the time of writing, Segway Salzburg is the only company brave enough to offer Segway tours of Salzburg. Brave, because on the face of things, hoping aboard a Segway anywhere in the world is an extremely foreign concept to most people. Also though, offering such an option in a city that prides itself in its heritage is a ballsy move. Staff could only offer resigned sighs and apologetic smiles whenever they mentioned just how much Salzburg residents hate Segways.

Segway Salzburg offer a range of tours, from a short hour long tour of the city centre, to a huge 2 hour scoot through the centre, out to the suburbs and around. We decided upon the longer tour. We had only arrived in the city the day before and we wanted to get a feel for the place before we dived in deeper. Our guide was Jonathan, a Swede who had set himself up in Salzburg a few years before. During the winter months, he would swap his Segway for a snowboard and head into the nearby mountains to coach tourists. For now though, he was our tour guide aboard a Segway.

Riding A Segway

Jade & Jonathan in Salzburg

Jade and I had been on a Segway taster session a few months before, so we were already well aware of just how easy riding a Segway is. To the initiated, a Segway with its two parallel wheels looks difficult to control and as if it could topple at any moment. But failing to topple is a Segway’s primary feature. After a couple of minutes of tuition, most find that they can trust the Segway to keep them upright, and providing they don’t also trust it to steer them away from walls, curbs or people, you’ll find riding one is not only very intuitive, but tremendously good fun.

The Big Tour of Salzburg

Once we’d had a quick practice, we set off to explore. Within seconds, we were riding through the historic centre, surrounded by beautifully restored buildings housing shops and restaurants. Tourists and locals gazed curiously at us as we rode across Staatsbrücke, the city centre bridge spanning the fast-flowing blue-grey waters of the Salzach. Our first calling point would be Mozartplatz, named after the famous Salzburg-born composer. A statue of the man himself stood proudly in the centre of the square surrounded by tourists taking selfies. The most important landmarks were pointed out to us by Jonathan, including Dom zu Salzburg, an impressive seventeenth century cathedral and Residenz Fountain, a large ornate fountain around which Maria sang “I have confidence in me” in The Sound of Music. As we progressed around the city centre, Jonathan was keen to point out as many Sound of Music filming locations as possible as the area is absolutely overflowing with them.

Mozartplatz, Salzburg

River Salzach, Salzburg

Dom du Salzburg

Our next stop put our Segways to the test as we climbed Festungsberg, a 542 metre high mountain, one of five in the city and on top of which Hohensalzburg Castle sits, one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Despite the steep ascent, our nimble Segways ascended the mountain with ease. We enjoyed the truly breathtaking panoramic views of the city below, but could have probably done without being stared at by a clearly furious local, angry at our sheer presence. Within moments, we were well away from his vicinity, so it’s really difficult to understand why he and so many other residents of Salzburg are so annoyed by Segways in Salzburg. We smiled back at him, half to appease his disgust, half because we were just too happy aboard our Segways to care.

Next, we headed out to the suburbs and into the countryside. From here, we caught a first glimpse of Untersberg, a mountain we would later climb (a post on this coming soon). For now though, we simply admired it’s craggy dominance over the neighbouring farmland. Our tour continued around lake Leopoldskroner Weiher and the grounds of Schloss Leopoldskron, a rococo palace that provided the exterior shots of the Von Trapp mansion.

Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg

Matt & Jade in Salzburg

Untersberg View From Salzburg

Finally, Jade, Jonathan and I wound our way through narrow cobbled alleyways up to the top of Mönchsberg, another of the city’s mountains. On top, we found more spectacular views of both the city and surrounding green fields and mountains.

From the start of our tour to the finish, we were convinced this was easily the best way of seeing Salzburg. Our battery-powered scooters effortlessly and silently scaled mountains, navigated busy cobbled streets and shot across wide open squares. Without them, seeing so much of Salzburg in the same length of time would have been completely impossible.

The Future of Tourism?

Segways were first seen in 2001, yet it’s only now that entrepreneurial types are seeing the massive potential they possess for the tourism industry. Clean, quiet and reasonably discrete transportation that doesn’t require the riders to have prior experience, nor a license. For medium sized cities like Salzburg, it’s almost as if Segways were made to been ridden by tourists. Now is definitely the time to drop any preconceptions you have about Segways and put them at the back of your mind the next time you’re planning a trip. Does your destination have a Segway tour company? If so, get yourself booked in.

If Salzburg is your destination, we can only hope our glowing review of Salzburg by Segway will encourage you to book yourself onto one of their tours. Despite them being nearly 15 years old, Segways are an important part of the future of the tourism industry, whether the residents of Salzburg like it or not.

Segway Salzburg Office

More Information on Segway Salzburg

Tours by Segway Salzburg run daily from 13 March to 31 October. During winter months, tours can be run on request providing the weather is good and there are a minimum of five participants. We were taken on the ‘Big Segway Tour’, but you can choose from a selection of smaller tours should you wish to. For the most up-to-date information, head to the Segway Salzburg website.

 

Disclaimer: Segway Salzburg generously offered us a complimentary tour of Salzburg. This has in no way affected what has been written in this article. All opinions are those of the author.

Need somewhere to stay in Salzburg?

Salzburg offers a variety of places to stay to suit every budget. Here’s one hotel we’ve personally stayed in that we recommend.

Bergland Hotel, Salzburg

 

Bergland Hotel, Salzburg

Our Rating:

This family-run, centrally-located hotel offers individually designed rooms, a continental breakfast and plenty of artwork and artifacts to peruse. Prices are good and wifi is free.

The Good

Each room is decorated in a unique style with plenty of personal touches. We really like the old, wooden explorer’s writing desk and the antlers on the wall in our room.

The Not-So-Good

The centre is close, but still a 10-15 minute walk away. Really not a deal breaker.

 

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Have you been on a Segway? If not, are you now tempted to have a go on your next trip? Let us know in the comments section below.