It’s hard to imagine a more exuberant art festival than the one which takes place in the northern French city of Lille every few years. An enormous event which takes place over several months in the city centre and surrounding districts – it’s known as Lille3000.
A cultural season of art and events
Lille3000 is the name given to a unique, quirky, captivating cultural artistic event that takes place in the city of Lille, northern France over several months in hundreds of different locations. Expect an event that is slightly crazy, possibly a tad deranged (in a good way) and absolutely pulsating with joie de vivre, creativity and energy. And, if you love art, then this should be at the top of your must see-do-go to list!
It’s not quite a festival; and not quite an art exhibition. It’s both. And more. In 2004, the city was the European Capital of Culture. The cultural and artistic celebrations reinvigorated the town and its people in such a way that they decided to carry on growing culturally and honouring art in all its forms. It was said they wanted to carry on until the year 3000 so Lille3000 was born!
Lille3000 is one of the most vibrant, colourful, festive art events in the world. It spills out of museums (and they are numerous in Lille), and art galleries, the opera house, public buildings and shops, onto the streets and into the sky in this truly dynamic town. And the festival flows into surrounding districts.
Each Lille3000 event takes a different theme and for 2019 it was Eldorado – the spirit of Mexico.
The programme for Lile3000 runs from April to December and is constantly changing so check the Lille3000 website to see what’s on where and when. We’ve picked just a few of our favourite elements from hundreds of exhibitions in 2019, including 10 monumental alebrijes on the Lille Rambla, a suspended moon in Gare Lille Flandres, a sound jungle in the Sainte-Marie-Madeleine church and a solar installation at the Vieille Bourse …
Alebrijes – Rambla in Rue Faidherbe, which runs between the Gare de Flandres leading to the Grand Place. 10 huge, colourful creatures from the mind of Mexican artisan Pedro Linares López, famous for his paper mache figurines. (Free)
Angry God, Soundwalk Collective at the Church of St Mary Magdalene. In the beautiful surroundings visitors were plunged into the Amazonian jungle via a series of videos and sound. A metal sculpture, made from pots and pans ‘Hungry God’ was mesmerising. (Free)
Mexicraneos, Calaveras – Giant painted skulls, emblematic of Mexican culture, customized and coloured by many artists on the occasion of the famous “Dia de los Muertos”. Celebrated every year in Mexico, the very festive Day of the Dead mixes Aztec traditions and Christian holidays. (Free)
Hospice Comtesse Museum– a collection of artworks by various Mexican artists from around the world including the Museum of Modern Art of Mexico City.
Tripostal – the former post office building was transformed into a major contemporary art gallery. Discover a diverse range of artworks which range from the bizarre to the utterly incredulous. There’s also a great café to take a break here.
Betsabe Romero, Soles of Oro at the Vielle Bourse saw dozens of mirrors adding an ethereal atmosphere to the already beautiful courtyard of the Old Stock Exchange. This great space hosts a second-hand book market. It’s also the location for tango dancing on Sunday nights throughout the summer. (Free).
Tourcoing – MUBA EUGÈNE LEROY. In the district of Tourcoing on the outskirts of Lille, the Museum of Beaux Arts has an excellent permanent collection.
While you’re in Tourcoing, don’t miss a visit to Le Paradoxe, 3 Rue d’Havre by the museum. It’s a seriously funky restaurant located in the former Hospice which dates back to the 13th century.
LaM: LaM modern art museum in Villeneuve d’Ascq exhibits major works of art in the permanent collection from artists such as Picasso, Modigliani, Joan Miró, Georges Braque and Fernand Léger. There’s also an art brut collection consisting of more than 8000 pieces.
There really are so many events, performances, concerts and exhibitions – head to the Lille3000.com website for all the details. This is a stunning art festival which will perplex you, make you smile and one you won’t forget. And, there are more than a dozen museums in and around Lille – enough to keep the most ardent culture vultures brimming with happiness.
More on Lille
Don’t miss La Piscine at Roubaix. Easy to reach via tram or metro from Lille city centre.
Where to stay: Suitenovotel, next to Lille Europe station. It’s very central for all visits to Lille and surrounding areas. Comfy and quiet rooms make for a great stay in the city.