Sunday, December 04, 2005

Strange Geordie Events

A few weeks ago, Newcastle city workers started decorating the streets for Christmas. The main shopping streets in the city are pedestrian only, and these are now decorated with everything from giant garlands with lights attached, to lighted outlines of Christmas presents that dance and sing, to a giant Christmas tree at the North end of the main shopping street. Last week, a second Christmas tree appeared about 5 minutes away from the first one, in front of the Newcastle Civic Centre (as far as I can tell, this is their city hall - I never see anyone going in or out of it, although the parking lot is always full). Anyway, on Thursday night, about 5pm, the held what I think was a lighting ceremony for the tree - they had a brass band, some singers, a crowd of people, and lots of lights on the tree (for those of you back home, keep in mind that its pitch black dark here by 4:30pm, so a lighting ceremony at 5 was perfectly effective in terms of how visible the tree lights were).

On Friday evening, around the same time, they had a different bizzare light festival going on. I didn't go over to investigate (or take photos, sorry), but they had this arch of scaffolding set up in front of the Civic Centre, to which they had attached flame-throwers of some sort, so that they could let out these little bursts of flame in time with the music - kind of like a mini fireworks show, except that the "fireworks" didn't go more than a metre or so into the air. It was very odd to watch, especially since I was watching it from my room, unable to hear any of the music.

When the light show ended, the side of the Civic Centre tower, which is usually illuminated with this neon blue light, became a screen for a powerpoint slideshow (as seen from my bedroom window)...
The giveaway that it was powerpoint was the lovely little error box in the middle of the screen. Clearly the guy working the machine had no idea what he was doing, cause that box didn't disappear for a good 10 minutes!

(the light in the bottom left corner is the light at the top of the Xmas tree. The blue color on the right is the light that usually shines on the building - they turn it off sometime after midnight)

(that's a photo of the Baltic, the big warehouse turned art gallery down on the Quayside)

This slideshow appeared again on Saturday night, complete with a solitary orange flare that was fired off every few minutes from about 4:30 to 9pm... this whole thing is very odd, and I can only hope that the pictures change soon, since the entire slideshow only takes about 20 minutes. And considering that I get a front-row view, I'd really appreciate a change of scenery. I wonder if I could convince them to put a movie up there? with subtitles maybe, or else a remote speaker system so I can hear it properly? Hmmm... whom do I speak to at city hall to make this happen?


Impressionist said...

How funny, I noticed that the other night too and thought it was incredibly bizarre. I will tell you that it isn't some annual ritual, but probably the result of some funding landing at the city council, and they then having to do something with the money. I find this to be the case all over the UK... councils and organisations will get some kind of monetary reward from somewhere (i.e. national lottery fund) and they will do some flashy show or event with the money... never to repeat again. But this is just my guess. I think they should have put a movie up there myself.


Hi there, will you be joining us for knitting on Saturday at the Centurion? Hxxx