Abbey is quite a picture on opening weekend of 1,350th anniversary year

First published on: 8th February 2024

The opening weekend of activities to celebrate Hexham Abbey’s 1,350th anniversary has been hailed a resounding success.

Visitors turned out in numbers over the weekend of 2-4 February for a Festival of Flame, which saw the historic Abbey illuminated both inside and out, with the impressive installation including both candles and music.

The weekend also included the launch of Stars for Eternity, with no fewer than 5,000 origami stars suspended high above the Abbey’s old choir stalls - each star representing someone special from past or present, nominated by local people.

The Festival of Flame is the product of collaboration between Hexham Abbey, Queen’s Hall Arts, and Hexham Community Partnership.

Jez Light, Associate Producer, Queen’s Hall Arts and operations manager at Hexham Community Partnership, has been working closely with the Abbey, where he previously served as events operations manager, on this project.

He said: “For the 1,350 launch we wanted to have some fun with the Abbey’s heritage, so we created a Viking invasion of the refectory garden.

“We also showcased the Phelps Organ in its 50th year with a recital that included modern as well as more traditional music. The four interwoven triquetra created from hundreds of candles on the floor of the north transept was an idea originally borrowed from Ripon Cathedral’s Candlemas celebrations.

“Ripon, which shares the same founder in St Wilfrid, was also the original inspiration for the Stars for Eternity installation of 6,000 origami paper stars hung high above the chancel. The Illuminated Sheep first appeared at the Abbey in 2022 as part of Northumberland’s response to the visit to the Lindisfarne Gospels to the North East, funded by the North of Tyne Combined Authority".

The 1350 launch was part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund with the North of Tyne Combined Authority as the lead authority.


Credit: Visit Hexham / Hexham Community Partnership

Jason Thompson, the Bigger Picture Agency Ltd


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