Winter Lights 2024: Canary Wharf free light festival returns

Blast away the January blues with stunning installations at Winter Lights 2024, London’s largest free light festival. 

Three large coloured glass mammoths between trees with tall buildings in background

Winter Lights returns to Canary Wharf for its eighth year, turning the business district into a huge outdoor art show. The light festival features spectacular temporary installations from some of the world’s most innovative light artists. This year, Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival “shines a light on the intersection and juxtaposition of nature and technology: allowing for moments of stimulation and pause, of beauty and technicality.”

The eighth edition features 13 temporary installations alongside 6 ever-popular permanent artworks. Watch Westferry Circus light up with flickering flames. Enjoy a giant marble run at Wren Landing, explore geometric monoliths in Crossrail Place Roof Garden, experience Squidsoup’s Submergence again in Montgomery Square, and see a larger-than-life laser projection at Union Square.

In this post I’ll share more information about this year’s Canary Wharf Winter Lights festival, plus top tips for visitors based on years of experience of visiting, with and without kids.

Click here for a comprehensive calendar of 30+ free UK Light Festivals.


CONTENTS

  1. WINTER LIGHTS 2024 DATES AND TIMES
  2. IS CANARY WHARF WINTER LIGHT SHOW FREE?
  3. WHERE CAN I FIND A WINTER LIGHTS 2024 MAP?
  4. WINTER LIGHTS 2024 TEMPORARY ARTWORKS
  5. WINTER LIGHTS 2024 PERMANENT ARTWORKS
  6. WHERE IS THE FLOATING EARTH IN CANARY WHARF?
  7. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WALK AROUND WINTER LIGHTS?
  8. BEST STATION FOR WINTER LIGHTS
  9. PARKING FOR WINTER LIGHTS
  10. TIPS FOR VISITORS


Winter Lights 2024 dates and times

Large circular spinning metal form with perforated holes in shape of stars and letters which cast light onto floor

Canary Wharf Winter Lights runs 17 to 27 January 2024, from 17:00 to 22:00.


Is Canary Wharf Winter Light show free?

Giant purple coil made out of mirrored arches lit purple

Winter Lights is a free event, and no tickets are needed. Just turn up!


Where can I find a Winter Lights 2024 map?

  • Maps are usually handed out by staff along the route.
  • A downloadable map is available from this page from Tuesday 16 January 2024. 
  • And check the Canary Wharf App for a map closer to the time.


Winter Lights 2024 Temporary artworks by location

Trumpet shaped sculpture with mirrored interior and colour changing lights

Riverside: 

  • On the Wave of Light by Those Guys Lighting: 100 LED light sticks react to your movement, creating a beautiful wave effect.
  • Neuron by Juan Fuentes: New commission! Intricate glowing structure inspired by the brain’s neural connections.


Westferry Circus:

  • Sign by Vendel & De Wolf: Bamboo installation resembling flickering flames, exploring the beauty and danger of fire. 


Cabot Square:

  • LES OISEAUX by Simon Chevalier: Black and white sculptures capturing a bird in flight, prompting us to appreciate London’s wildlife.


Wren Landing: 

  • Marbles by Gertjan Adema: Giant marble run offering a mesmerising experience with geometry, movement, light and sound. 


Adams Plaza:

  • The Peace Poem by Emergency Exit Arts and poet Robert Montgomery: Illuminated poem commemorating a century of peace after the First World War, highlighting the individual efforts needed for collective harmony.


Crossrail Place Roof Garden:

  • Vessels by Limbic Cinema: Laser sculpture with music, inspired by monuments that brought people together in ancient civilisations to celebrate the sun.
  • Biophilia by Frankie Boyle: 3D creation using visible light, motion and captivating colours to connect us with the natural world. 
  • In-Between by Daniel Popescu: Art installation of simple cubes with hidden mirrors revealing a complex interior.


Montgomery Square:

  • Submergence by Squidsoup: A welcome return of this large, walkthrough space made of thousands of suspended points of light. 


Water Street:

  • Kinetic Perspectives by Juan Fuentes: 32 illuminated spinning circles create optical illusions. 


Union Square:

  • Geist by This is Loop: An interactive light and sound artwork inspired by actual ‘ghost particles’ interactions seen by T2K neutrino experiment in Japan.
  • Idle Time by Marcus Lyall: Animated line figures at rest, reminding us of the importance of relaxation.


Where is the floating Earth in Canary Wharf?

Large inflatable earth floats in a dock with tall buildings and raised train track in background

And if you’re wondering where the floating globe is in Canary Wharf – you’re a year too late! Luke Jerram’s Floating Earth was part of Winter Lights 2023 and is not returning for 2024.


Winter Lights 2024 Permanent artworks by location

Multicoloured fibre optic trees in front of tall buildings

Chancellor Passage:

  • Bit.fall by Julius Popp: Falling water droplets create an ever-changing cascade of words taken from live news, showing the fleeting nature of information exchange. 


Cubitt Steps Bridge: 

  • The Clew by Ottotto: 100 red light circles make a striking structure around Cubitt Steps Bridge.


Riverside: 

  • Shine Your Colours by Tine Bech: 6 transparent coloured glass panels will be illuminated for the first time. 


Adams Plaza Bridge:

  • Captivated by Colour by Camille Walala: For Winter Lights, rhythmic coloured lights mimic and enhance the colourful optical pattern in this space age tunnel.
  • We Could Meet by Martin Richman: 500 Glowing acrylic rods in water change colour and frequency.
  • Elantica ‘The Boulder’ by Tom&Lien Dekyvere: Discarded circuit-boards mimic a natural rock formation.


How long does it take to walk around Canary Wharf Winter Lights?

The artworks are spread over the whole of the Canary Wharf estate. Allow 2-3 hours to see them all, including time for photographs and a refreshment stop.

If short of time, or with young kids, pick just a couple of artworks to see and focus on those.

Which is the best station for Canary Wharf Winter Lights?

The best station is Canary Wharf, which is on the Jubilee Line, Elizabeth Line and Docklands Light Railway. You can also start Winter Lights from Heron Quays on the Docklands Light Railway.


Where do you park for Canary Wharf Winter Lights?

Spinning top shaped sculpture covered in small mirror mosaics, with Winter Lights written on wall in background

There are four public car parks in Canary Wharf, offering 2,500 parking spaces. We’ve never had a problem finding a space.

The car parks are: 

  • Cabot Square: Cooks Close (E14 4AP)
  • Canada Square: Montgomery Street (E14 5EW)
  • Jubilee Place: Bank Street (E14 5NY)
  • Westferry Circus: West India Avenue (E14 4HD)

Disabled and parents bays are available. There’s a 2m height restriction (we forgot to take our roof box off one year which scuppered our visit!) 

These spaces are charged for and cash is not accepted, only contactless payment. 

​Parking tips: 

  • If you enter the car park after 18:00, you can park for up to three hours for £3.80.
  • From Monday to Friday, spend £10 or more at Waitrose Canary Wharf for 2 hours’ free parking. Ask them to validate your ticket at the checkout.
  • At weekends, get 3 hours’ free parking when you spend £10 at any participating shops, cafés, bars or restaurants. Ask the business to validate your ticket when you pay.


Tips for visiting Canary Wharf Winter Lights

Walkthrough covered space with thousands of colour changing fibre optics hanging from ceiling
  • The light trail can get extremely busy at weekends. 
  • Visit on a weekday if possible – the first day is usually quietest, followed by Monday. The quietest times midweek are 17:00-18:00 and 21:00-22:00.
  • Dress warmly for the cold, and take frequent coffee or mall stops to stay toasty.
  • Crossrail Roof Garden is open-roofed but offers more shelter than outdoor installations. It’s also magical with the coloured lights among exotic trees, and birds chirping.
  • Pop-up food markets with street food and hot drinks are available. 
  • Jubilee Park offers pop-up fire pits for toasting marshmallows. 
  • Book ahead for cafes, bars, and restaurants. Many have special offers running for the festival – check this page for more information.
  • Extend your day with a visit to the ice rink in Canada Square Park.

Want more free light trails? Check out this post for 30+ across the UK.

And if you’re thinking further ahead, take a look at my post on 60+ things to do this February half term 2024 in London.

Share your tips for visiting Winter Lights in the comments below.

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Written by Vyki Sparkes AKA Museum Mum. Award-winning culture blogger, content creator, museum curator, podcaster, and mum to three. I’ve worked in museums for 18+ years, have a masters in museum studies, but more importantly, have been letting my kids loose in museums for decades. This blog shares all my hard-earned knowledge and experience.

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