For many families across Wearside, Sunderland’s annual Christmas light switch-on marks the beginning of the countdown to Christmas. This year, as well as meeting local football hero Kevin Phillips, and Metro Radio’s Steve and Karen, Sunderland City Council’s Smart City team added a unique, technology-enabled twist to the night.


At the event, residents of Sunderland enjoyed free light artistry – a process of painting images in the air using light, capturing the artwork using long exposure photography. Through moving around sources of light and capturing these movements on camera, the light resembles brush strokes – but with no painter involved!

The images produced were shared on the recently installed, large digital screen on Keel Square, in the heart of the action, during the Christmas light switch-on. The finished light artistry images were also available for families to download and take home from the event for free to share with friends.


This free experience for visitors to the event brought a new way to experience light and added an exciting new dimension to the traditional Christmas light switch-on. In an increasingly technology-driven world, Sunderland City Council’s Smart City team is passionate about enriching experiences through technology for the city residents to enjoy.

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