AFTER more than 20,000 visitors were charmed and 'de-light-ed' by last year’s first event, the Light Up Poole festival of digital light art is returning to illuminate and transform the historic town centre.

The three-night festival, sponsored by Poole BID and funded by Arts Council England, will run from February 21 to 23 to showcase the work of emerging and international artists with a series of light art, digital installations and participation events designed to cast a new light on Poole.

And with traders reporting sales boosts of up to 40 per cent last year Light Up Poole is good news for the town’s businesses as well.

“Light Up Poole is inviting artists to transform Poole in ways that will positively enhance the town, its businesses and local residents’ sense of civic pride that will impact way beyond three days of art,” says Libby Battaglia of festival directors Audacious.

As daylight fades, Poole will provide the dramatic backdrop as artists celebrate Poole’s rich maritime heritage and unique location by responding to the theme of ‘Tides’, blending art and science to explore navigation and the stars and illuminate the enduring magic and mystery of the sea.

More than 20 art spectacles will be shown at various locations to accentuate the town’s diverse landscapes, from the harbour’s natural beauty and the industrial expanse of the docks to the Old Town’s historic buildings and the urban setting of the High Street.

Justin Hundley-Appleton, Poole BID manager, says: “We’re really pleased to hear that Light Up Poole will be returning in 2019. I think we can all agree that it had a positive effect on the town and I’m sure that the next year will be another interesting event that encourages further creativity.”

A learning programme will again find Light Up Poole artists working with local schools and community groups to create new work in advance of the festival.

“Artists have the ability to show us things we think of as familiar in a new light,” adds Libby. “They see the world differently and they can use that creative vision to show people something new about the places they live.”

A feature of this year’s festival will be the Window Wonderland and, as well as using empty shops, Light Up Poole is keen to persuade businesses to leave the lights on, open the doors, stay open late and invite artists to transform their window space.

“Light Up Poole will continue to grow Poole’s reputation as a destination for excellence in digital art and our artists will develop, hone and share technical skills and artistic practice to foster innovation and stretch artistic possibilities on an ambitious scale.”

The full programme will be announced in January.