Lumina – A Blast from the Past

Cascais Swim Challenge

 So far since reaching the Iberian Pennisula the entertainment ashore has been good value. One Saturday in Baiona we were rudely awoken early by sound tests from across the bay, we soon forgot our annoyance as couple of dozen small planes and microlights landed on the beach. Kevin was able to provide a translation of the commentary; the pilots had apparently flown all night to get there. The following morning around 8am it was by contrast completely quiet no traffic along the usually busy main road that traverses Baiona’s seafront at all. There was a bike race coming through the town and by nine normal service was resumed.

Cascais Water Polo

Here in Cascais there has been no shortage of free entertainment. Saturday saw the setting up of a Swim Challenge off the closest beach to Temptress and a water polo pitch. No idea what the commentary was all about but it appeared to be some sort of triathalon in the morning followed by longer distance swimming events in the afternoon. And we have discovered the pretty O’Neil house in the park with its cloisters and Moorish tiles, now a museum. It seems quite a few Irish families emigrated to Lisbon in the 18th century as the O’Neils counted O’Byrnes and others in their family tree.

Nearly thirty years ago the First Mate lived in the tourist hotspot of Matlock Bath in Derbyshire. There in the early autumn they had their “lights” and still do. Attracting crowds from the nearby cities of Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham it was an inland version of Blackpool’s favourite – a variety of twee tableau illuminated by coloured bulbs through the riverside gardens and a pageant of boats down the Derwent with yet more illuminations. Well it seems Cascais has brought the whole idea up to date with the Lumina Festival over this past weekend – lots of LEDs, fibre optic cable, colour changing lighting, computer controlled installations and projected light fantasies plus a lot of plastic items and a collection of cars filled with silk flowers! We have been fascinated by some of the pieces near the beach over the last few evenings and last night being the final night decided to “follow the blue lamps” (altered street lights) through the town along with it seemed most of the local population, the streets were crowded.

Floating lights
The strawberry coloured igloo

Starting right by where we moor the dinghy there is an installation of lit “balloons” floating in amongst the small open fishing boats off Praia Ribereira, whose colour changes through the spectrum randomly – the explanatory sign says it is by a UK group called Atmosphere, very pretty. Ashore on the beach is an igloo made of red jerry cans (looks like a giant strawberry when lit at night), the signage has something pretentious or may be it’s tongue in cheek, about global warming and alternative housing for Inuit. Up the hill above the marina there was more including a collection of pastel coloured watering cans with fibre optic water which small children loved to sit among, a huge Dutch light show on the end wall of a church that looked at first like angular graffiti but soon became more as it writhed about and produced butterflies and flowers. Then we found the cars, we’d seen one in daylight stuffed full of fur fabric and silk house plants. At night it had green neon lighting odd but fun, there were more scattered in the streets nearby with respectively pink orchids, white daisies and yellow sunflowers – hugely silly and attracting crowds. On past giant sized “paper boats” placed over street lights, a street full of smaller paper boats being made by children and suspended on LED bulldog clips above the pavement, large white mounds (snow or an alien life form?) apparently falling off roof tops and then we were back down at the seafront…

Finally our favourite, Key Frames a French piece from Lyon. It filled the large square with a group of matchstick figures made out of florescent tubing. Each figure is suspended in various running poses on a post, looking for all the world like one of those flip books that animate a figure but in this case by means of synchronised lighting a line of six “competitors” run a race to kick things off. This “urban installation” is incredibly well executed with an accompanying sound track of snippets of classical and disco music as well as voice. There is plenty of humour too; one of the racing figures apparently trips then on being invited to try again performs somersaults down the course. Later two of the stickmen fight when one announces to the other “connaissez Bruce Lee?.  After a sombre funeral march enacted by other figures the fallen loser decides revive and celebrate with a disco! Every performance got a round of applause, round the square even elderly couples indulged in a little waltzing or jiving depending on the music whilst little girls simply stood amongst the figures jigging up and down to the music or staring up at the animation. Brilliant entertainment, well done Cascais!

Sorry so few photo’s, it was too dark and too busy but hopefully you can find more here.