The first of its kind in the UK and Europe, Lightopia is a brand new immersive lantern and light festival coming to Heaton Park this winter.

The installations have been designed by critically acclaimed Ava Moradi, a contemporary artist who has exhibited and created art and installations revolving around light and design internationally for over ten years. 

We asked Ava what audiences can expect at the festival, which includes unique interactive and immersive lights, lanterns, installations and incredible lasers with water-screen multimedia shows, as well as a Manchester bee installation.

It’s easy to see why light festivals are so popular in the winter months, believes Ava.

“I believe light brightens our surrounding and shows the path of our journey in the dark,” she says. “Light installations lift our mood; it feels magical, like a fairy tale, but also dynamic.

 “At a light festival, people enjoy the time, space, and sense of community, so it can affect their state of mind while exploring installations. Lightopia Festivals has become a cultural and magical land of art and design.”

The large scale of light installations is visually stunning, particularly for this year’s festival, says Ava, who has created each design especially for the festival.

“Each design has been created in a unique and original way, meaning each installation has its own concept and meaning.”

One of the designs for the festival is especially Mancunian: the worker bee. 

“It’s very inspiring to know that the Manchester worker bee represents both hard work, togetherness and the sense of unity,” says Ava. “The bee symbolizes community, brightness and personal power.

“The Manchester worker bee is one of the best-known symbols of Manchester and has been an emblem for the city for over 150 years. The bee denotes Mancunians’ hard work ethic and the city as a hive of activity.

“This installation has been designed with three light working bees, all with unique beehive placements.

“I designed three bees because three is the first number to which the meaning ‘all’ was given. It is The Triad (Harmony), being the number of the whole, as it contains the beginning, middle and end.

“The power of three is universal and is the tripartite nature of the world as heaven, earth, and water. It is human as body, soul and spirit.”

The festival, which also includes live entertainment, acrobatic performances, local musicians and family rides as well as food and drink, is an immersive experience, aiming to engage everyone positively, says Ava. 

“Lightopia enables each individual, regardless of their age, to truly connect and interact. Lightopia is an illusory environment that completely surrounds you, making all guests feel included. It’s a virtual and mixed reality.”

How did Ava get involved in the festival?

“My passion has always been nature and movement,” she says. “After I finished my studies at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and then Central Saint Martins, I dedicated my time to teaching art, creating stone and metal sculptures which led me to my design career.

“My stone relief sculptures were all carved with different patterns and designs, inspired by nature and movements. I decided to bring my design to paper and expanded into public sculptures and installations.

“I chose an art and design path as whenever I drew an original 2D design on paper and turned it into a real-life installation, the feeling it gave me was indescribable.

The reason Ava became involved in Lightopia was that she always wanted her art “to have meaning,” she explains. 

“By this, I don’t mean the concept or aesthetic shape, but to bring joy and happiness to people.”

“It’s one of the greatest feelings to you know that you have the chance to impact people’s lives, even for a few nights, and make them escape to a different world such as Lightopia: a perfect land of light.”

Lightopia will open in Heaton Park from 21st November to 31st December 2019 from 5pm to 10pm (last entry 8.30pm). The event is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, except during school holidays. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are closed. Advance adult tickets cost £18, or £20 on the day, with advance child tickets (aged 3-16) £11. Advance family tickets cost £54. Children under three go free.

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