A global search has begun for a team to come together and create The Illuminated River, an elegant and charismatic light installation for London’s celebrated bridges, harnessing the most innovative, green and sustainable technologies.

Breathing new life into the river each evening, the project will be the world’s longest free, permanent outdoor river gallery, creating a ribbon of light through the city at night and revitalising public spaces along the river’s banks.

The Mayor has made protecting and promoting London’s position as a capital of culture one of his priorities. The Illuminated River will encourage new investment, increase use of the river, bridges and riverbanks at night and strengthen partnerships across the public realm between the public and private sector landlords. It will encourage the expansion of a vibrant night-time economy, something the Mayor is keen to support through plans to appoint a Night Czar, to help protect London’s live music venues, clubs and pubs, and the introduction of a 24-hour weekend Tube service on key lines from August.  

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to breathe new life through the heart of London each night in a new, permanent, fluid light art installation across the capital’s historic bridges. It will throw a spotlight on the river and its banks, and extend their daytime bustle and buzz into the darker hours, supporting London’s burgeoning night-time economy. A dazzling, free outdoor art gallery, for Londoners and all of our visitors to enjoy would encourage new investment and promote our great city to the rest of the world. With the right design, we can remind the world that London continues to be the global leader in innovation, sustainability and artistic creativity.” 

Shortlisted competitors will be asked to create the most forward-thinking and environmentally friendly designs, enhancing London’s status as a low-carbon beacon and a world leader in cutting edge technology and engineering. Building on London’s Olympic and Paralympic Legacy, the Illuminated River will complete the technical infrastructure upgrade, which began with Tower Bridge in 2012, when a new world-class, energy-efficient lighting scheme lit up the attraction with a series of light shows to celebrate the Games.


The 17 bridges, which stand as monuments to London’s history and symbols of its future, as well as vital thoroughfares for the city, are, travelling West to East:

Albert Bridge, 1873

Chelsea Bridge, 1937

Grosvenor Bridge, 1859

Nine Elms Bridge (in development)

Vauxhall Bridge, 1906

Lambeth Bridge, 1932

Westminster Bridge, 1862

Hungerford Bridge, 1864 and Jubilee Bridge, 2002

Waterloo Bridge, 1945

The Garden Bridge (in development)

Blackfriars Bridge, 1869

Blackfriars Railway Bridge, 1886

Millennium Bridge, 2002

Southwark Bridge, 1921

Cannon Street Railway Bridge, 1866/1982

London Bridge, 1973

Tower Bridge, 1894


The shortlisted schemes will go on show in a public exhibition at the end of the year, after which a winner will be announced. For full details of how to enter the competition,see the Search Statement available on the competition website at: https://competitions.malcolmreading.co.uk/illuminatedriver