Illuminate 2019 - the international Mayflower 400 opening event

The Mayflower 400 commemoration year will officially launch with the stunning Illuminate festival taking place at Mayflower destinations across the globe.

Illuminate is a spectacular light-based festival that connects all of the Mayflower 400 destinations across the UK and internationally.

A breathtaking series of events involving light-based art installations and projections create will take place at locations across the UK, Holland and the US in November 2019.

Local, regional and international artists will help mark the first Thanksgiving that took place between the Mayflower Pilgrims and the native American people in 1621 with vibrant, fun and inspiring experiences.

It will herald the start of a year of events in 2020 commemorating 400 years since the Mayflower's sailing to the New World.

Illuminate Plymouth 2019 at Royal William Yard

Dazzling light shows and cultural extravaganzas will wow crowds on both sides of the Atlantic, taking their inspiration from the words of Governor William Bradford of the original 'Plimoth Plantation':

"Just as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many."

View Illuminate information by destination:

View Mayflower 400 highlight events

Illuminate Plymouth 2019 arrives at Royal William Yard

In the build-up to the Mayflower 400 commemoration year, Illuminate festivals have been taking place every November for several years, including both Plymouth, UK, and Plymouth, MA.

They are free to attend and are wonderfully vibrant, socially engaging shows of creativity.

Charles Hackett, Chief Executive of Mayflower 400, said: “Illuminate is one of the key events planned for the commemorations and as well as being an amazing spectacle it will connect the partner destinations across UK in 2020. The festival builds on the core values of Mayflower 400, which include Freedom, Humanity, Imagination and Future."

In November 2018, Plymouth UK held its latest Illuminate festival - an immersive experience, with projections and light installations set out across the historic Royal William Yard, live performances and interactive opportunities.

The free event attracted 28,000 people of all ages, with visitors in their early years joining those in their 90s, to watch, wonder and create their own digital art through dancing. Some even found gold at the end of the Rainbow in the Dark.


International artists Xavi Bové and Thomas Voillaume brought pieces to the festival. Bové’s piece, ‘Visual Songs’, creates a link between songs and their visual representation. Performed live, visitors can conduct virtual brushes to create their own personalised artwork, which they can print and take home with them afterwards.

Voillaume showcased ‘Human’, a sculpture of a humanoid form that light and video is projected onto. The light gives the sculpture emotions and reveals its history, blurring the lines between reality and hallucination.

Organisers are already looking ahead to November 2019 with plans to make Illuminate bigger, better and even more immersive and interactive as it launches the international Mayflower 400 commemorations.

Other Mayflower destinations held festivals interpreting the Illuminate themes - in Harwich, a torch-lit procession paraded through the seaside Essex town and in Scrooby a lantern lighting ceremony was the highlight of the area's first Illuminate event.

More details on 2019's events will appear on these pages.

Illuminate Plymouth 2019

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