Every Christmas season in Norwich, there was one tradition that brought pure joy to our hearts: the annual visit to the cherished Tunnel of Light. Walking through this illuminated wonderland, with its ever-evolving light show, became a festive ritual we looked forward to year after year.
However, 2023 brings unexpected news – the Tunnel of Light won’t be gracing our city this holiday season, and its future remains uncertain. This change has led us to reflect on the past and explore the history and significance of the Norwich Tunnel of Light. Join us as we delve into its story.
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History of the Norwich Tunnel of Light
In 2016, Norwich introduced a new holiday attraction that quickly became a beloved tradition: the Norwich Tunnel of Light. Tucked right next to St. Peter Mancroft in the heart of the city, this dazzling sight didn’t just light up the holiday season; it lit up our imaginations. It was also quite the trendsetter, being the largest of its kind in all of Europe and making the BBC national news.
The Norwich Tunnel of Light contained over 57,000 RGB LED lights and boasted a sprawling 5.6 miles of cables. These lights would paint pictures as you walked through the tunnel. It was never the same twice, so you had every reason to take a few more strolls through its enchanting glow.
The excitement would build as The Tunnel of Light kicked off our holiday festivities with a bang. It was the star of the annual Christmas Light Switch On in November, and it continued to light up our lives until the first week of January. This brilliant display didn’t cost a penny to enjoy, and it kept the city buzzing with excitement, shining brightly until midnight each night.
This was the beginning of a tradition that made Norwich shine a little brighter during the holidays, warming hearts and bringing smiles to faces all around. It was all thanks to funding from the Norwich BID.
See the 2021 edition of the Tunnel of Light in action here.
Visiting the Tunnel of Light
People from all corners of the country would flock to Norwich to witness the magic of the Tunnel of Light, and we counted ourselves lucky to call it our neighbour, just a short walk away. Whenever we found ourselves in the city centre during the festive season, you could bet that we’d swing by for a visit. Late at night, with the streets quiet and serene, we might even find ourselves with the entire tunnel all to ourselves.
Some nights, we’d casually stroll through, while on other occasions, we’d pause to gaze in awe at the mesmerising designs that danced before our eyes. Even if there was a glitch in one of the panels, as it seemed to happen every year, it didn’t diminish the experience; if anything, it added a touch of uniqueness to the spectacle.
The Tunnel of Light was a delight that transcended age, captivating both the young and the young at heart. The love was clearly displayed on Instagram, as snapshots filled our feeds.
This enchanting experience was open to everyone (no ticket required) until midnight each night, and it didn’t cost a dime. Sometimes, it’s the simple pleasures in life that shine the brightest, and this radiant spectacle was a heartwarming reminder of that timeless truth.
Cancellation of the Tunnel of Light
In 2023, a cloud of uncertainty cast its shadow on the future of the Tunnel of Light. Ongoing redevelopment work at Hay Hill encroached upon the very space needed for the Tunnel of Light. Since the Norwich BID could not find another suitable location in the city centre, they decided to cancel it. The news came as a shock to many who had come to anticipate its return each year.
The Future of Christmas Lights in Norwich
The future of the Tunnel of Light in Norwich remains uncertain, leaving us wondering if and when it will grace our city once more. However, despite this unexpected setback, Norwich will still be a festive place to celebrate the holidays.
Norwich BID has unveiled plans for an exciting new Christmas lighting scheme set to debut on Thursday, 16 November 2023. What makes this scheme more thrilling is its strong commitment to sustainability, with the entire display powered by 100% renewable energy. Imagine lamp posts wrapped in a cascade of lights and festive decorations adorning even more corners of our city, promising an enchanting holiday experience.
While the Norwich Tunnel of Light may be temporarily dimmed, it hasn’t extinguished our festive spirit. As we eagerly await the unveiling of this new lighting scheme, let’s take a moment to fondly reminisce about the magic the Tunnel of Light brought into our lives. And, with hearts full of anticipation, let’s look forward to creating fresh holiday memories right here in the heart of Norwich. The show must go on and we look forward to seeing the new lights.