The afterglow of Liverpool’s River of Light is burning bright with the event once again boosting the local economy.
Across 17 nights, more than 250,000 people – a record number to visit the trail – headed to the city centre to enjoy the free outdoor trail which was organised by Liverpool City Council’s award-winning Culture Liverpool team.
Each evening, thousands of people travelled the 2km-long route, enjoying ten large-scale artworks – a mix of world premiere commissions alongside pieces not showcased in Liverpool before. Running from 21 October until 6 November, the theme Unexpected Twist played homage to the hugely successful World Gymnastics Championships 2022 which were taking place in the city at the same time.
And River of Light’s popularity was felt across the city centre with footfall up, and restaurants, bars and shops reporting a boost in sales.
Liverpool ONE found that post 5pm (when the event started) they saw a 27 per cent increase in footfall compared to 2021, and in the same timescale, their stores were boosted by an additional 6 per cent. In the period River of Light was on, they welcomed 1.7million visitors to their stores, and overall sales were up at least 5 per cent. Data is still being processed so this figure could increase.
Liverpool ONE says the October half-term week was the busiest week of the year to date. In comparison to 2019 pre-pandemic figures, footfall was up 4 per cent. Post 5pm footfall was up 89 per cent during the half-term week, with retail store visits up 37 per cent and restaurant visits up 35 per cent.
Liverpool BID Company reported a significant increase in Castle Street footfall day-on-day in comparison with 2019 – with the October event dates proving to be the busiest. Week days experienced an increase of nearly 70 per cent and at weekends it was up by 42 per cent.
Royal Albert Dock Liverpool also welcomed the additional evening visitors with many businesses located on the complex, noting a boost in sales.
And it wasn’t just the retail sector which benefitted from the event. There has been overwhelmingly positive feedback from the local, national and international artists involved in this year’s River of Light trail, with many praising the Liverpool audience, the response to their work and the warm welcome they received here.
A full impact report, which will include feedback from visitors, will now be compiled and the final figures will be released in the new year.
To see a gallery of images from River of Light 2022, visit www.visitliverpool.com/riveroflight.
Anyone who explored the trail is encouraged to fill in the online survey to provide the team with feedback which will help shape future events. The survey can be found here.
River Of Light was delivered by Liverpool City Council’s Culture Liverpool team and was supported by Arts Council England.
To find out more about Culture Liverpool and to find out more about cultural events in the city, head to the official website.
Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy, Councillor Harry Doyle, said:
“River of Light is a beautiful, established tradition in this city and it’s wonderful to see the event go from strength to strength each year. I always try to visit this event as a punter, and I loved my experience this year. Each night was busy and the atmosphere was amazing – seeing families with their dogs and groups of friends of all ages making the most of this free showcase and trying to get the best selfie they could at each installation. And what a selfie-backdrop those installations provided!
“I’m delighted, but not surprised, by these initial figures and I look forward to seeing the full impact report in due course.“
Raj Sharma, manager at Liverpool ONE’s Smoke & Dough, said:
“River of Light has been very positive, a great addition during half term. We’ve definitely seen an uplift in sales and walk-ins.”
Chris Snowdon, manager at Liverpool ONE’s TGI Fridays, said:
“River of Light has definitely had a positive impact and sales have increased especially in the evenings when footfall has been noticeably higher.”
Kath Caldwell owner of The Nest, an independent retailer at Royal Albert Dock, said:
“We experienced increased footfall and increased sales. It also positions Royal Albert Dock at the heart of a major cultural event which is incredibly important for my business.”
Abram Santa Cruz, the artist responsible for Electric Dandelions on the Pier Head, said:
“Having the Electric Dandelions in the River of Light show in Liverpool has been a dream come true. It was an honour to be invited to have our work displayed in such a beautiful city and working with Culture Liverpool has been such a treat. Everyone has been a pleasure to work with.”
Gemma Davis, an artist from Illumaphonium, responsible for Continuum, the mirrored artwork at the Pier Head, said:
“It has been an absolute joy to exhibit as a part of River of Light this year. At Illumaphonium we believe that the artwork is only ever the beginning, the real magic happens in the collaboration between the artwork, the audience and the environment we exhibit within. Continuum at its very core is an artwork that reflects back to us what we give it, and wow! Liverpool did not disappoint. From the magnificent site, to the marvellous folk that have visited the artwork, your incredible city put the finishing touches on this new piece – and we can thank you all enough.”
Bill Addy, CEO of Liverpool BID Company and Chair of LVEN, Liverpool Visitor Economy Network, said:
“Public art and animation is such an important ingredient in our everyday life in Liverpool city centre. River of Light helps to attract so many visitors to the city, engaging with beautiful art and everything the city centre has to offer.
“For our businesses it helps to showcase the mixed economy that makes Liverpool so vibrant. There’s something for everyone and when we increase footfall numbers and give everyone something to smile about and enjoy it has a positive impact on our economy as well.”
Sean Morrison, Estate Manager for Royal Albert Dock said:
“It was great to see so many people enjoying River of Light this year. It’s always a highlight for visitors to the dock at half term.”