THE FESTIVAL of Flames at Hexham Abbey has been hailed a success by organisers.

Hexham Courant: Visitors entering the Hexham Abbey for the festivalVisitors entering the Hexham Abbey for the festival (Image: Lee Johnston)The event was used to help celebrate Hexham Abbey marking its milestone of its 1,350th anniversary on Friday, February 2 and Saturday, February 3.

The 2024 festival highlights included Illuminated Sheep by artist Deepa Mann-Kler on the Cloister Lawn; a Viking Fire Garden by artist Leanne Shipley and an interactive community artwork titled Stars for Eternity. The Stars for Eternity artwork involved hanging 5,000 origami stars above the seating area symbolising someone special from the past or present.

Hexham Courant: 5,000 origami stars were on display5,000 origami stars were on display (Image: Lee Johnston)Visitors also enjoyed listening to original and live classical music performances from Simeon Walker and Michael Haynes, giving attendees the chance to soak up the music while viewing the festival installations.

Hexham Courant: Organists playing for visitors at the eventOrganists playing for visitors at the event (Image: Lee Johnston)Attendees also enjoyed refreshments at the Abbey Refectory and sampled toasted marshmallows and a Fire & Dough Pizza.

On February 4, at 10am, a specially arranged service marked the start of anniversary celebrations.

Hexham Courant: DragonflyDragonfly (Image: Lee Johnston)The following months will see a series of additional events, including festivals, concerts, and the continuation of the Abbey's organ recitals, Phelps at 50.

The series, marking the 50th birthday of the Phelps organ, will feature fortnightly performances every other Thursday at 1pm and will culminate with a special appearance from James Lancelot, Durham Cathedral's organist for 32 years.

 Jez Light, operations manager at Hexham Community Partnership said: "The feedback on the event has been very positive and running the Festival of Flame over two nights, rather than one, for the first time was definitely the right thing to do. 

"Over 4,000 people attended over the two nights, which was great to see.

"We saw a big uptick on numbers on the Saturday - I'd imagine that people who had attended on Friday were spreading the word on the event to friends and family and we also had a lot of press coverage on Saturday."