Prominent landmarks are illuminated with a kaleidoscope of creative lights and colour, thrilling audiences and showcasing Sharjah’s inspiring architecture and rich cultural heritage. Diverse locations are featured during the annual show, each selected for its dramatic setting and inspiring architecture. Light and sound spectacles turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Façades become canvases for art, architectural details become opportunities to demonstrate the latest in modern, energy-saving lighting technology, and history and heritage are celebrated through a captivating combination of light and music. This unique urban experience transforms the city, its rich and fascinating fusion of colour, sound and inspiration astonishing audiences. Innovative lighting techniques are used not only for aesthetic effect but to transform art into something three dimensional. Sharjah’s rich heritage and historical monuments are showcased through a blend of light, music and storytelling.
Throughout, a festive sense of community and sharing prevails as spectators together discover a newfound appreciation for the emirate’s landmarks and public spaces. The magical event welcomes renowned international lighting and video artists to demonstrate the very best of modern lighting design while celebrating Sharjah’s traditions and culture. Vibrant displays enhance buildings, decorate the darkness and brighten Sharjah’s nights. The installations, as varied as the locations, invite spectators to rediscover and perceive objects, structures and places anew. Their artistic and technical wizardry take audiences on exotic journeys over land, under water and through the skies over the course of 11 enchanted evenings every year.
The Sharjah Light Festival has showcased Sharjah and the emirate’s identity, the real authentic essence of Sharjah for 10 years astonishing years, uniquely combining historical landmarks with modern innovations and technology. Local and international artists, musicians and light technicians participate every year in a collaboration that takes over Sharjah. The emirate's achievements and excellence in all matters related to education, knowledge and innovation are reflected, literally turning technological advancements in the field of lighting into beautiful art displays. Voted the Culture Capital of the Arab World 1998 (UNESCO), Islamic Culture Capital of 2014 and the Capital of Arab Tourism 2015 and most recently World book Capital of 2019 (UNESCO) the emirate of Sharjah offers a new take on building a common language with its cultural distinctiveness, bonding communities and fostering a deep-rooted atmosphere of inclusivity; families gather for the SLF, visitors travel to the emirate for the SLF, strangers meet and talk and friendships are nurtured within the umbrella of the SLF.
In 2014 saw Sharjah awarded the Capital of Islamic Culture award, in tribute, the SLF included a spectacular hour-long parade, starting at the Flag Island and covering the expanse of Khalid Lagoon. 2016 saw the addition of the Palm Oasis tunnel, a collaboration between nature and technology. In 2017, technological advancements allowed for the very exciting audiovisual and interactive mapping installation which allowed visitors to become part of the show by mapping movement and music onto the façade of a building. The same year, the highly successful food court opened at the SLF, now an indispensable part of the attractions of the festival. In 2018, an unusual new venue, the Sharjah Police Academy, offered an unusual canvas for the light artist, a triptych, three facades to illuminate.
In more recent years, once the Sharjah Light Festival had become established, sustainability has become part of the agenda of SLF, all the lights and projectors used have passed certification for environmental compliance. Surrounding lights are switched off so the net result is 50 to 60 per cent of the power in that area is saved, another great moment in the journey of the Sharjah Light Festival.
For 2020, there will be much to celebrate with the Light Festival, in particular, Sharjah adds to the legacy of the SLF with an exciting collaboration with 2 of the most highly regarded universities in the area, students from the American University of Sharjah (AUS) and the University of Sharjah (UoS) will participate in the creation of two special shows to be projected on the main buildings of both universities. These and many other defining moments add up and are reflected in the popularity of the Sharjah Light Festival and its status as one of the most captivating festivals in the region, serving to promote Sharjah as a premier tourism destination for families from the region and the world. The 2019 edition attracted more than 1,200,000 visitors over a span of 11 days. The Sharjah Light Festival 2020 will light up the emirate from 5 to 15 February.