Hexham Abbeys Festival of Flame 2024

illuminating our rich heritage

The Festival of Flame at the Abbey this year is not just an event; it’s a grand commencement of the Abbey’s 1350th Anniversary Year celebrations, illuminating our rich heritage with a modern twist. Spanning several evenings, each one will be marked by the ceremonial lighting of 1350 candles within the Abbey, creating an ambiance that intertwines the ancient and the contemporary.

Event Highlights:

Illuminated Sheep: This visual marvel, a collaboration between Queen’s Hall Arts and artist Deepa Mann-Kler, is a sight to behold. Thirty ethereal, illuminated sheep will grace the Cloister Lawn, enveloped in a fusion of captivating light and soothing sound. This installation is not just an artistic expression but a journey into a dreamlike realm, where the ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary.

Stars for Eternity Launch: Echoing the heartwarming success of ‘On Angel’s Wings’ in 2021, this year’s community art project takes the form of thousands of paper origami stars. Each star is a poignant dedication – some honoring the everyday heroes among us, and others as a memorial to those we have lost. This sea of stars, each carrying a story, will be a powerful tribute and a visual spectacle.

Triquetra by Tea Light: The Abbey’s symbol, the triquetra, represents the Holy Trinity and is a cornerstone of our identity. Artist Leanne Shipley reimagines this emblem in an awe-inspiring installation using tea lights. This large-scale artwork in the North Transept, consisting of four interconnected triquetras, is a nod to her acclaimed work during the first Festival of Flame. It’s a fusion of art and spirituality, casting a celestial glow that invites reflection and admiration.

Live Music Performances: The festival boasts an impressive lineup of musical talent. Simeon Walker, the renowned pianist and composer whose works are a staple on BBC Radio 3, BBC 6Music, and Classic FM, will grace our event. His performances are more than just music; they are narratives woven in melody, offering audiences a chance to indulge in moments of stillness and beauty. Additionally, the Abbey’s Director of Music, Michael Haynes, will showcase the Phelps Organ. Installed in 1974 for the Abbey’s 1300th anniversary, this magnificent instrument will echo with classics like Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’, arranged for organ. These performances promise to be both soul-stirring and unforgettable.

Viking Fire Garden: In a nod to our ancient Nordic heritage, the Festival of Flame will feature the Aegishjalmur (Helm of Awe), a powerful symbol, represented in an intricate pattern of fire on the Refectory lawn. This display is not just an artistic interpretation but a connection to our ancestral roots, reminding us of the strength and resilience that form the foundation of our community.

Food & Drink: The festival experience is incomplete without indulging in some culinary delights. A range of refreshments will be available, catering to all tastes. From the savory pizzas of Fire & Dough to the simple pleasure of toasting marshmallows, there’s something for everyone. These offerings are not just food; they are part of the communal experience, bringing people together in joy and celebration.

The Festival of Flame is a collaborative effort, brought to life by Queen’s Hall Arts in partnership with Hexham Community Partnership. This project is a testament to the power of community and collaboration, made possible through support from Historic England, the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the North of Tyne Combined Authority, Hexham Town Council, and Northumberland County Council. It’s a celebration that transcends mere entertainment; it’s an immersive experience that honors our past, celebrates our present, and looks forward to our future.

As we light each candle and witness each performance, we’re not just partaking in a festival; we’re becoming part of a living history, one that honors the Abbey’s 1350 years of resilience, faith, and community spirit. Join us in this celebration of light, art, and community at the Festival of Flame.

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