LONDON • London's iconic Westminster Abbey was lit up like multi-coloured confectionery and a giant flame loomed over the capital's premier shopping drag on Thursday, part of the city's first festival of light.
Crowds flocked to dazzling sculptures puncturing the cold winter night, including ghostly fish swooping through the air in Piccadilly and an enormous animated elephant near Regent Street's upmarket shops.
"It's contemporary culture which engages the emotions rather than the cerebral, that is designed for a mass audience to share public space," said Ms Helen Marriage of Artichoke, a charity that works with artists to create large-scale, popular events.
Organisers of Lumiere London, a venture backed by Mayor Boris Johnson, say it is the biggest light festival to hit the capital and its 30 works are distributed among some of the city's most famous landmarks.
The spectacle has its origins in Durham, in England's northeast, where it has been held every two years since 2009.
The festival is a boon for London tourism, adding to its cultural draw, and shops and restaurants near the installations stayed open later to cash in.
A million visitors are expected during the festival's four days. The free event runs until Sunday, from 6.30 to 10.30pm daily.