CARLISLE Cathedral is indisputably among Cumbria’s most impressive ancient buildings.

But on Wednesday evening, as hundreds of people watched, the already impressive interior of this 12th century structure was transformed into a truly modern masterpiece - a vibrant, memorable, colour-infused spectacle of light and sound.

Welcome to the first ever Carlisle City of Lights event.

The four-day spectacular lit up both the cathedral and the city as organisers unveiled this unique project which they predict will transform both the city and its profile as a destination that offers positive experiences.

At the cathedral, the event was billed as The Great Exhibition: Space, God, the Universe, and Everything.

As haunting music filled the interior, the cathedral’s walls and ceilings became the canvas for a stunning light show: abstract patterns, a DNA double helix, an astronaut, floating in the blackness of space, the Earth planet looming large in the background.

Carlisle city councillor Liz Mallinson described the show as “absolutely brilliant” while Harraby county councillor Deborah Earl said it has been a fabulous experience. The City of Lights event was officially launched in Court Square.

At the press of a button, key buildings - including the Citadel towers and the Hallmark Hotel - were bathed in colour and light.

Speaking a short time before, Carlisle City Council Leader John Mallinson said: “We hope this is going to put Carlisle on the map and raise our profile.

“It’s going to put a bit of sparkle into people’s lives: we’ve sold a lot of tickets so it’s going to bring people into the city centre. Visiting the city can no longer be just about buying things any more, although there will always be a retail experience for visitors.

“There has be more diversity, and experiences such as this event.” Carlisle mayor Marilyn Bowman and Cumbria County Council chairwoman Christine Bowditch made speeches, welcoming the four-day event.

Councillor Bowman said: “I know other cities have held events like this, such as Durham and Madrid; but they’re going to have to up their game because after tonight Carlisle will be the top out there. We’ll do the best as we always do.”

Councillor Bowditch was delighted the county council and city councils worked jointly on such a fantastic event. “It will be a celebration of what is best in Carlisle: the best it has to offer in terms of heritage and our history,” she said. “I hope this gives a real boost to the city.”

Cyril Weber, who represents Harraby on Cumbria County Council, said: “I hope this is the start of something special for the city. We’ve been keen to do events in Carlisle for a while, and working jointly witht the City Council we have produced this.”

The switch-on was watched by civic leaders from Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council, as well as officials from the project’s partners Story Contracting and the Railway Heritage Trust.

Carlisle’s romantics can have a love message - or even a marriage proposal - projected by laser on to Carlisle Castle between 6pm and 9pm tonight - for free. Send your request to Find out more at

The Cathedral event was created by the award-winning Luxmuralis artistic collaboration.