The University of Manchester

University illuminates in honour of bicentenary festivities

The University of Manchester made a grand display on Wednesday, 17th January, lighting up Oxford Road with a dazzling array of purple lights to kick off their 200th anniversary celebrations. The event, called Light Up, marked the beginning of a series of exciting events planned throughout 2024. The campus was transformed from a frosty white to a vibrant purple, with iconic buildings like the Whitworth Arch and Manchester Museum shining brightly in the university’s signature color. Despite the cold weather, crowds gathered along Oxford Road to witness the big switch on and enjoy a special ‘Late’ event at the museum, featuring light-filled poetry, music, and even a makeover for the museum’s famous spider crab. At exactly 6.24pm, representing the university’s founding year, the Leader of Manchester City Council and the President and Vice Chancellor of the university pressed the big gold button together, flooding the campus with light. The event was live-streamed for audiences around the world, showcasing a warm welcome from Professor Rothwell and a speech from Councillor Craig, emphasizing the university’s important role in the city. A specially commissioned bicentenary poem by alumna Rebecca Hurst was also featured. As part of the celebration, a neon installation with the line “I’m meant to be here” was displayed across Booth Street East for 28 days. The much-loved spider crab at the museum even joined in the festivities, donning a disco-inspired outfit and becoming a hit with the crowd. A projection on the university’s distinctive ‘drum’ building, University Place, highlighted the university’s inspiring community and showcased some of the people who have made a difference in Manchester and beyond. Visitors at the museum enjoyed curated tours, lantern-making workshops, performances, and intriguing displays. Rebecca Hurst performed her poem once again, and David McFarlane and his band used music to recreate the experience of sound-to-color synesthesia. The celebrations extended globally, with the university’s China Centre lighting up the CITI Bank Tower in Shanghai, the Middle East Centre conducting a countdown in Dubai, and the South East Asia Centre hosting a reception in Singapore. In Hong Kong, a purple illuminated tram will traverse the city for three weeks, spreading the news of the university’s special anniversary. The Light Up event truly showcased the University of Manchester’s global reach and brought together its wonderful community, past and present, in a vibrant and purple spectacle.

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