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Illuminate – a Festival of Flame

Hexham Abbey, Beaumont Street, Hexham, Northumberland NE46 3NB

02 Dec 2022, 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm

  • Hearing impaired friendly
  • Wheelchair accessibile

DELIVERED BY: Hexham Community Partnership & Queen’s Hall Arts 

Festival of Flame is an annual celebration of fire, music, poetry and community held at Hexham Abbey. The event appeals to people from all ages and backgrounds and encourages visitors to explore the Abbey and its grounds in a very different way.  

2022 will mark the third festival, with the title “Illuminate” encapsulating the themes of fire, light and knowledge. As the home of the “Flavinus stone”, a grave cover depicting a Roman cavalryman and with elements original church built from stones showing Roman “graffiti” still visible in the crypt, Hexham Abbey’s links to the Roman world of Hadrian’s Wall are strong.  A fire garden on the Cloister Lawn of the Abbey will be designed to reflect themes of celebration and sacrifice in the Roman world.  

A giant design in points of flame will also be created using over 1,000 tealights to re-imagine a design taken from the “illuminated manuscript” of the Lindisfarne Gospels, part of the “Illuminated Sheep” event taking place across Northumberland in 2022. So please come and marvel at the beauty of the flames and soak up the atmosphere of the event. To keep everyone happy there will be hot food and drink (including hot chocolate, toasted marshmallow and artisan pizzas) on offer as well as a craft activity aimed at our younger visitors. 

We will also be welcoming a flock of Illuminated Sheep to this year’s event. Inspired by the visit of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the Laing Gallery in Newcastle, a flock of life-sized model sheep have been roaming Northumberland. They return from their community settings to gather one final time before the Gospels return to the British Museum.

“Ignite” was the first Festival of Flame event, held in 2019 and worked with Hexham Town Council to add some extra magic to the Christmas Lights switch on event and in partnership with Queen’s Hall Arts to promote their “Viking Christmas” show – a theme that was to inform some of the installations at the event. The event included hor chocolate, carol singing, live performances of Bach, an intricate tealight installation, poetry and two themed fire gardens. 

“Elegy” was a quieter, more reflective piece – which due to Covid restrictions was postponed to May 2021. A central installation was created in the North Transept using a tealight to remember each person who had died from the coronavirus in Northumberland. Amongst the music and candles there was also an opportunity for people to light their own votive in memory of those who had passed; many of whom had not been able to be commemorated in the usual fashions due to the restrictions in place. 

“Illuminate” will be the third festival – and the largest one yet. As well as the main event at Hexham Abbey, we are planning to take a smaller version on the road – visiting a number of venues in Hadrian’s Wall country to spread the word of the Lindisfarne Gospels visiting Newcastle’s Laing Gallery. The event will coincide with the switch on of the Christmas Lights in Hexham, which we’re reliably informed will include an appearance by Santa! 

The Festival of Flame is organised by Hexham Community Partnership, hosted by Hexham Abbey and funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority, Historic England, Northumberland County Council and Hexham Town Council.

Last entry 8pm.

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