Cathedrals at Night Launched

First nationwide Cathedrals at Night campaign launched in every Church of England cathedral

A fire garden with fiery sculptures, medieval wall paintings seen in a new light, art shows, music, lectures, fun and prayer under the Museum of the Moon, hymns and Pimms, pilgrimage, labyrinth walks, sound and light displays, and lots and lots and lots of candles.

This year, for the first time, every Church of England cathedral will open their doors after hours on at least one evening to welcome in people of all ages to experience and explore their beautiful buildings and to enjoy a taste of cathedral life.

Co-ordinated by the Association of English Cathedrals (AEC) for 2020 Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage, Cathedrals at Night is the first nationwide project that brings together the 42 Church of England cathedrals, Westminster Abbey, Cathedral Isle of Man, and St Davids and St Asaph from the Church in Wales, around a single, simple campaign.

The ambition is that Cathedrals at Night opens up an opportunity for cathedrals to reach new audiences and re-engage with those more familiar with cathedral life, by offering a mix of cultural, heritage and spiritual activities some of which will go on until late – and all of them are free.

The concept has been used very successfully in European cathedrals which open on the same night in May every year and it is hoped Cathedrals at Night will become a regular fixture here too beyond 2020.

The first Cathedrals At Night event took place in Rochester last month under Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon installation in the Nave. It invited people to experience a range of free events including Evensong, a talk by the Global Advocate, Dr Ruth Valerio, and concluded with simple Night Prayer sung under the Moon.

Cathedrals at Night events will take place on dates throughout the year. Some cathedrals, like Durham, Ripon and Gloucester are opening their doors for more than one “Night”. St Albans is recreating its medieval past with a host of activities including illuminating its medieval wall paintings; Lichfield will explore its theme “Fully Alive” with its Artist in Residence, Peter Walker; Birmingham is offering Pimms and Hymns, Christ Church Oxford is offering music and pilgrimage until late, while other cathedrals have found local partners, like Wakefield, which will welcome visitors in for its “Night” as part of the Wakefield Bid and Cultural Consortium offer that will see the Cathedral gardens transformed by fire sculptures in a Fire Garden event by award-winning outdoor arts organisation, Walk the Plank.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral will host the final Cathedrals at Night event for 2020 in November with a light and art show that will form an exciting part of the city’s 1,000th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Abbey.

The Very Revd Adrian Dorber, the Dean of Lichfield and chair of the Association of English Cathedrals, said:

“This simple campaign is a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate our cathedrals and their rich spiritual heritage and give our visitors the chance to see them in new and exciting ways.

“Cathedrals At Night represents a new, coordinated approach to cathedral outreach and visitor engagement which we hope will shine a light on cathedrals nationally, help them broaden their mission and heritage engagement, and build lasting relationships.

“This year has been designated Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage, and we want the nation to fall in love with our cathedrals and experience these extraordinary spaces of peace, tranquillity and prayer anew,” he added.

Flyers advertising Cathedral At Night events by region are available in every cathedral and you can find all the Cathedrals At Night dates on the website here.

2020 has been designated Year of Cathedrals, Year of Pilgrimage as it brings together a remarkable number of individual English cathedral anniversaries that help tell Britain’s story and will see a host of new pilgrimage routes opened.