The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London, with the Lights Out projection

First world war centenary marked with UK-wide Lights Out

Rebecca Atkinson, 04.08.2014
More than 2,300 centenary events taking place
The centenary of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany will be marked tonight with a UK-wide Lights Out event, with everyone in the UK asked to turn out all but one light or have a candle burning between 10-11pm.

The event is inspired by then foreign secretary Edward Grey’s remark on the eve of the outbreak of war: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time."

The Tate, Lincoln Castle and the Eden Project are among thousands of buildings, institutions and offices that have signed up to the event. Many museums are holding public events during Lights Out, including a torch-lit procession at the Bowes Museum in County Durham and a Lights Out gathering outside Leeds City Museum.
Lights Out has been organised by 14-18 NOW, a UK-wide programme of cultural events.

Artists have also been co-commissioned to create artworks across the UK’s four countries, including Nalini Malani’s large-scale video projection across the façade of the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh; a large-scale light and sound installation by Bedwyr William at the North Wales Memorial Arch in Bangor; and Bob and Roberta Smith’s new large-scale work at Belfast City Hall using thousands of candles.

The commission for England will be revealed at 10pm on Monday in London. Jeremy Deller has also created an Lights Out artwork in the form of a free app.
First world war commemorations

Events marking the centenary and the run-up to war have been held since 2010, but the majority of activity is likely to take place between now and 2018.

There are 2,331 centenary events listed on, the website of the First World War Centenary Partnership. This includes 519 exhibitions; 667 talks and lectures; 684 festivals, tours and reenactments; 2,227 general events; 655 family activities; and 55 courses.

The network, which is led by Imperial War Museums (IWM), has 3,003 members from 50 countries, including 2,424 from England, 138 in Scotland, 85 in Wales and 50 in Northern Ireland.

14-18 NOW is run under the First World War Centenary Partnership. It has received a total of £5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), £5m from Arts Council England (ACE), and £250,000 from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

ACE has also invested £1.88m in 78 first world war projects through Grants for the Arts. Awards have also been made through its exceptional awards and museum strategic support funds.

HLF has invested £57m in first world war centenary projects since April 2010, including £4m to 500 small community projects.

This includes a £6.5m grant to help redevelop the First World War galleries at the IWM London. Nearly half of the £40m spent on the museum’s wider redevelopment went towards the new galleries.

Museums Galleries Scotland has awarded 13 museums and galleries a total of £122,000 on behalf of the Scottish government for projects that commemorate the first world war and communicate its legacy to new generations.

The Welsh government has allocated £2m to its first world war centenary programme, Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has contributed funds towards 14-18 NOW.