Leipzig Festival of Lights - Programme

Programme Leipzig Festival of Lights 2019

Illuminated Spaces and the Leipzig Festival of Lights: The City Centre Ring Road as a Path of Light

The concept, developed by Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH, in cooperation with the Viennese artist Victoria Coeln and the civil rights activist Gesine Oltmanns from Leipzig, adopts a participatory, light-based approach that envisages illuminated spaces (Lichträume), a path of light (Lichtweg), and light studio (Lichtstudio). It will take place from September 4th to October 9th, spanning a period of five weeks.

In the run-up to October 9th, six illuminated spaces (Lichträume) will be created to mark the progression of the protestors of the Monday Demonstrations of 1989, which began at the St. Nicholas Church and further extended along the city center ring road, literally conquering more and more space. Starting on Wednesday, September 4th, the first space will be illuminated and each following Monday another space will be lit, with the progression of the light reflecting the progress of the events in 1989. Initially, the lights will unfold at places along the ring road, mostly pointing “into these places”. On October 9th, the lights will encompass the entire ring road, transforming it into a path of light – “the ring of light”.

The illuminated spaces have been designed as participatory places of impulse. Each Monday the spaces will become the stage for citizens’ projects and performances. Both public participatory and artistic intervention are welcome. Each illuminated space is assigned a particular theme based upon the concise demands and slogans of 1989.

Illuminated Spaces: Places, Times, Themes

Sept. 4th (Wednesday):  Illuminated space 1: St. Nicholas Church (interior) – “We are the people” (Wir sind das Volk!) and “Open to everyone” (Offen für alle)

Sept. 9th (Monday): Illuminated space 2: St. Nicholas Churchyard – “We want to get out!” (Wir wollen raus!)  and “We are staying here!” (Wir bleiben hier)

Sept. 16th (Monday): Illuminated space 3: Schwanenteich – “Join us!” (Schließt euch an!)

Sept. 23rd (Monday): Illuminated space 4: Runde Ecke – “No violence!” (Keine Gewalt!)

Sept. 30th (Monday): Illuminated space 5: Goerdeler monument at New City Hall – “Now or never – democracy” (Jetzt oder nie – Demokratie”)

Oct. 7th (Monday): Illuminated space 6: Schillerpark (Lenné Park) – “For an open country with free people” (Für ein offenes Land mit freien Menschen) 

2019 Leipzig Festival of Lights:

Oct. 9th (Wednesday: Day of Peaceful Revolution): Leipzig Festival of Lights – “The Autumn of 1989 – The Dawn of Democracy” (Herbst 89 – Aufbruch zur Demokratie)

The transformation of the entire city center ring road into a path of light, a ring light, will mark the conclusion and highlight at the same time. In addition to the illuminated spaces that will have been created, the entire historic route of the demonstrations will also be lit. On October 9th, the traditional “Kerzen-89” (illuminated “89” lettering filled with thousands of candles) will be set up at the Augustusplatz, expended by the lettering “LEIPZIG” which will be filled with candles by the Festival visitors as well.

The Light Studio | 3 May – 25 August 2019

The Light Studio, which is situated in the Museum of Fine Arts Leipzig (MdbK), is an additional participatory concept designed to involve contemporary witnesses and urban society. It is set up to produce pictorial images. The focus of the production will be on interviews with historical witnesses. These will be photographed, filmed and processed within different light environments; kaleidoscopic shadows and movements. Consequently, part of the content of the large-scale projections is created, which will overwrite facades at the Leipzig Festival of Lights, becoming an essential element for participation. Various conversations and round table discussions that may give further impetus are planned at the area surrounding the Light Studio.


Leipzig Festival of Lights 2018: „Music. Word. Video."

9 October 2018, 8pm, Augustusplatz

On 9 October 1989, around 70,000 people took to the streets in the East German city of Leipzig, despite the threat of a command to shoot. With candles in their hands, they peacefully demanded more freedom and democracy in the GDR – a decisive catalyst for the start of the Peaceful Revolution that finally led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the call "Wir sind das Volk" [We are the People] and "No Violence", people gathered to march across the Leipzig inner-city ring road.

The dramatic events of Autumn 1989 encourage people even today. The remembrance of those days is kept alive by the citizens of Leipzig in many ways, in particular, the commemoration of 9 October. On this day, the focus will be on the Prayer for Peace and the Speech on Democracy at St. Nicholas Church, as well as on the Leipzig Festival of Lights at Augustusplatz.

At the original settings, Leipzig people and guests of the city remember together the historic events 29 years ago. With exhibitions, panel discussions, film screenings, readings and  many  other formats, a  wide  range  of  events  will  reach every  year  thousands  of  visitors of all  generations.

Key points 2018

Participation
Each year, the Leipzig Festival of Lights brings one of the central claims of the Peaceful Revolution from 1989 into special focus – this year, it will be the aspect of participation and its significance and meaning then as well as today. As the year 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the introduction of votes for women, the participation and role of women in society, the citizen movement as well as the Peaceful Revolution shall be highlighted during this year’s Festival of Lights.

A female ensemble
The stage program of the Festival of Lights will be operated only by female artists from conductor Eva Meitner to the musicians of the “Freies Orchester Leipzig” (Free Orchestra Leipzig) over to the actresses who will all together form the scenic center of the production. Five actresses will hereby recite short parts of statements collected from contemporary witnesses from the civil rights movement. That way, the subjective and personal relation to emancipation and its influence on participation and democracy comes to the fore.

Music. Word. Video.
With one exception, all compositions performed during the Festival of Lights originate from only female composers. They were arranged in a way that through the interaction of music, spoken word, and video sequences, a unique artistic work emerges. While on video level the topic of participation of women is shown in the course of time using a distinctive visual imagery, the spoken word is integrated directly into the musical arrangement.

The Festival of Lights begins at 8pm on Augustusplatz. Throughout the evening, visitors are, as in previous years, invited to form an illuminated 89 with thousands of candles.


Further Events on October 9th, 2018

17:00 Prayer for Peace, St. Nicholas Church

Since 1982, peace, environmental and human rights groups had been regularly invited to Prayers for Peace into St. Nicholas Church. From here emanated the Monday demonstrations in September 1989. After the Prayers for Peace on 9 October, more than 70,000 people gathered in the city centre of Leipzig for a non-violent demonstration – the breakthrough for the Peaceful Revolution.

18:30 Speech on Democracy, St. Nicholas Church

Since 2001, the Speech on Democracy has continuously represented one of the high points of the Autumn of ’89 series. Every 9th of October, representatives from one of the three constitutional organs of the Federal Republic of Germany or international guests have spoken in the church.

Key Note 2018: Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin

Programme Leipzig Festival of Lights 2017

On 9 October 1989 around 70,000 people took to the streets in the East German city of Leipzig, despite the threat of a command to shoot. With candles in their hands, they peacefully demanded more freedom and democracy in the GDR – a decisive catalyst for the start of the Peaceful Revolution that finally led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the call "Wir sind das Volk" [We are the People] and "No Violence", people gathered to march across the Leipzig inner-city ring road.

The dramatic events of Autumn of 1989 encourage people even today. The remembrance of those days is kept alive by the citizens of Leipzig in many ways, in particular, the commemoration of the 9th of October. On this day, the focus will be on the Prayer for Peace and the Speech on Democracy at St. Nicholas Church, as well as on the Leipzig Festival of Lights at Augustusplatz.

At the original settings, Leipzig people and guests of the city remember together the historic events 28 years ago. With exhibitions, panel discussions, film screenings, readings and many other formats, a wide range of events will reach every year thousands of visitors of all generations.

Leipzig Festival of Lights – An Emotional Highlight on the October 9th

After the Speech on Democracy in the St. Nicholas Church, the Leipzig Festival of Lights is an emotional conclusion of October 9th. Augustusplatz, which in 1989 became a famous historic place of assembly, will be the scene of a nearly hour-long program interwoven with text, music, dance, photography and video into a multi-layered performance under the artistic direction of Jürgen Meier.


Events on October 9th, 2017

17:00 Prayer for Peace, St. Nicholas Church

Since 1982, peace, environmental and human rights groups had been regularly invited to Prayers for Peace into St. Nicholas Church. From here emanated the Monday demonstrations in September 1989. After the Prayers for Peace on 9 October, more than 70,000 people gathered in the city centre of Leipzig for a non-violent demonstration – the breakthrough for the Peaceful Revolution.

18:30 Speech on Democracy, St. Nicholas Church

Since 2001, the Speech on Democracy has continuously represented one of the high points of the Autumn of '89 series. Every 9th of October, representatives from one of the three constitutional organs of the Federal Republic of Germany or international guests have spoken in the church.

20:00 Leipzig Festival of Lights, Augustusplatz

Since 2009, the famous Leipzig Festival of Lights has commemorated this historic date with an annual sea of candles and performances by international artists. After dealing, in the past few years, with in the pursuit of liberty and democracy in the GDR and other Eastern European countries, now civil society is the over riding topic. Throughout the evening, the visitors of the Festival of Lights are, as in previous years, invited to form an illuminated "89" with thousands of candles.

Programme Leipzig Festival of Lights 2016

On 9 October 1989 around 70,000 people took to the streets in the East German city of Leipzig, despite the threat of a command to shoot. With candles in their hands, they peacefully demanded more freedom and democracy in the GDR – a decisive catalyst for the start of the Peaceful Revolution that finally led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. With the call "Wir sind das Volk" [We are the People] and "No Violence", people gathered to march across the Leipzig inner-city ring road. 
 
The dramatic events of Autumn of 1989 encourage people even today. The remembrance of those days is kept alive by the citizens of Leipzig in many ways, in particular, the commemoration of the 9th of October. On this day, the focus will be on the Prayer for Peace and the Speech on Democracy at St. Nicholas Church, as well as on the Leipzig Festival of Lights at Augustusplatz. 
 
At the original settings, Leipzig people and guests of the city remember together the historic events 27 years ago. With exhibitions, panel discussions, film screenings, readings and many other formats, a wide range of events will reach every year thousands of visitors of all generations.

Leipzig Festival of Lights – An Emotional Highlight on the October 9th

After the Speech on Democracy in the St. Nicholas Church, the Leipzig Festival of Lights is an emotional conclusion of October 9th. Augustusplatz, which in 1989 became a famous historic place of assembly, will be the scene of a nearly hour-long program interwoven with text, music, dance, photography and video into a multi-layered performance under the artistic direction of Jürgen Meier. Performed by actor Sylvester Groth, musician Mike Dietrich, the Leipzig ballet with choreography by Mario Schröder, the performance focuses on Groth, who portrays the visionary citizen, the cosmopolitan.

Bold and confident on one hand, while critical and thoughtful on the other, Groth addresses the overarching topics of the evening using modern texts and historical quotes from Kant to Kennedy. In a symbolic role, Sylvester Groth becomes a coach, pit against the opposition: those gathered together at Augustusplatz.

The dancers of the Leipzig ballet follow along in a constantly changing act. In consent at times, dismissive at others, they move between breakup and consolidation, future and past. For the dramaturge, ballet director Mario Schröder drew from choreographic features of Mendelssohn"s "Hymn of Praise", a hymn dedicated to enlightenment. The music events of the evening are overseen by Mike Dietrich, who has developed a sound collage with classical and contemporary elements for the Festival of Lights.

Large screens in the background which display historic photographs and video clips, interspersed with media depicting current events accompany the production. Jürgen Meier"s assembly of dramatic scenes and images support and intensify on-stage action and create additional layers of meaning.

Designed and implemented by the Leipzig Festival of Lights, Tourismus und Marketing GmbH. 

Programme Leipzig Festival of Lights 2015

"Liberty - Equality - Fraternity?"

After the major anniversary celebration last year, where the festival stretched over the entire inner ring road, the Leipzig Festival of Lights 2015 explores new themes: While, in recent years, the focus was on neighbouring countries to the east and their movements for democracy, the emphasis is now on issues surrounding civil society. "Liberty - Equality - Fraternity?" is the motto of this year - critically backlighting this statement and, thus, punctuated by a question mark. The identity of the individual in a Germany, once divided and now reunited for 25 years, is the intellectual starting point of the evening. A tension-filled panorama is created through the interaction and interplay of text, image and music.

Throughout the evening, the visitors of the Festival of Lights are, as in previous years, invited to form an illuminated "89" with thousands of candles.

Organiser: Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH
Artistic director: Jürgen Meier