The most spectacular art gallery opening in the world – Lille3000 Renaissance: On Saturday 26 September, 2015, the sun shone on the city of Lille in northern France, the sky was blue, the old city, Vieux Lille, was as gorgeous as ever with its 17th century Flemish buildings with their distinctive gables and beautiful decorations.
It wasn’t like any other Saturday though, this day was the start of Lille3000, 2015. Lille3000 is the name given to an incredible art festival that’s held every three years in Lille. In 2004, the city became the European Capital of Culture. The cultural and artistic celebrations reinvigorated the town and its people so much that they decided they wanted to carry on growing culturally and honouring art in all its forms. In fact they wanted to carry on until the year 3000 they said – so Lille3000 was born!
In 2015, the theme of Lille3000, which now takes place every three years, is Renaissance, not in a historical sense but in the spiritual sense. This enabled the organisers of Lille3000 to invite five cities to join them on their quest to present the spirit of rebirth which has resulted in the most amazing presentation of art that takes place in all 77 districts of Lille, in the streets, in the museums (and there are many!) and in public buildings.
It all kicked off though with a parade through the city centre. Throughout the day strange and wonderful sculptures could be seen appearing on the bridge by the Gare de Lille. Huge heads which are used in the legendary Rio Carnival welcomed visitors to Lille as they arrived in the town by train! The first time these heads have visited Europe, they started to give an indication of what was to come.
More sculptures appeared, late in the afternoon a giant Godzilla inflatable popped its head over Le Corbusier Bridge (top). Groups of people started to congregate dressed in costume, musicians roamed the streets. 2000 of Lille’s inhabitants had dance or music lessons so that they could participate in the parade. Band stands were set up, huge cameras were erected, TV crews appeared, and an air of expectancy started to build.
As night fell, 300,000 people gathered on the streets and in the squares of Lille to hail the parade with its dancers from Brazil, dancers from Lille, amazing floats, acrobats and of course the giant Godzilla!
As I stood opposite the Voix du Nord newspaper building which had been painted with an incredible mural, one of the many works of art on the streets of the town, my feet started to vibrate as the hundreds of drums beat along the route, the effect pulsing through the cobblestone pavements and the Grand Place. The sky was alive with laser lights leading the way for the dancers; glittery, shiny, coloured confetti dropped from the sky…
Godzilla loomed over the column of the Goddess on Grand Place and appeared to kiss the incredible twirling acrobats who thrilled the crowds on their bendy ladders high over our heads…
The beautiful buildings around the square were lit up with images of the Rio carnival and the crowds ooh’d and ah’d, exhilarated by the colourful sight on their beloved ancient buildings…
Floats passed by playing music to inspire the mood of carnival Rio style, dancers drew gasps of admiration for their costumes…
For more than two hours an exuberant parade, an electrified crowd and incredible sights made for a memorable opening to Lille 3000.
Afterwards the crowds partied with free music on the streets and a firework display in the park.
If you ever get a chance to watch the parade (next one September 2018) – don’t miss it, in fact make a point of putting this one on your bucket list, you will never go to the opening of an art gallery quite like it!
Find out more about Lille3000
Lille Tourist Office are offering a brilliant deal for overnight visits until 17 January 2016, one night in a hotel, ticket to the brilliant Joie de Vivre Exhibition at the Palais des Beaux Arts and a city bus tour – from €34.00 per person.