City - Zwolle / The Netherlands

Zwolle: a city-wide transformation with festive lights

Zwolle Fonds is a collaboration between entrepreneurs from retail, catering and public-oriented businesses in the city center of Zwolle (The Netherlands), all of whom contribute to a fund, supplemented by a contribution from the municipality, which they use to make Zwolle a vibrant, bustling and safe city that welcomes visitors.

In 2017, Zwolle Fonds knew that they wanted to do more than simply hang a few string lights to celebrate the festive season. They wanted to create an experience using festive lighting that would encourage visitors into the city center.

They contacted MK Illumination Holland with an initial idea in mind: they wanted to use festive lighting and decoration to create multiple points of attraction throughout the city. The idea behind this was two-fold: first, to attract visitors, and second, to encourage them to enjoy a walking tour of Zwolle that would introduce them to different parts of the city, which in turn would lead to longer visits and a strong possibility that local businesses would benefit as a result.

Zwolle Fonds also wanted to extend the festive lighting beyond the city center, to make the whole city a pleasurable experience for residents and visitors alike.

MK Illumination Holland applied their local knowledge of the Dutch market and of Zwolle in particular and drew on their international experience to create a complete festive lighting solution that fitted Zwolle’s needs perfectly.

In November 2017, 12 larger-than-life light sculptures appeared throughout the city, each a unique and engaging visual experience for visitors to enjoy. The streets were decorated with overhead lighting motifs, the trees draped with glittering light chains, and bridges and building façades became instant attractions thanks to sparkling accent lighting, and the city Zwolle was transformed into a magical, light-filled space.

The resulting walking tour was made available online and the custom-designed map provided a clear route with markers that indicated where each light artwork could be found and short descriptions of different parts of the city.

Whether visiting the city to see the lights, or to experience the walking tour, or simply to shop, visitors to Zwolle were able to enjoy the festive atmosphere, experience the child-like delight of coming across an over-sized snowman for the first time, and share memorable moments with family and friends, taking photos at the many photo points and sharing them on social media.

The festive lighting route was featured on the local Dutch television network and visitors to the city were overwhelmingly positive. Many commented on how the lights create a positive atmosphere in the city – even if you can’t understand Dutch, it’s clear to see how positive people are about the lights in Zwolle!

Andries van Daalen of Zwolle Fonds had this to say:

“Of course this is a special experience. With the lights, everything about this Christmas feels a bit warmer and friendlier. I get goosebumps when I walk through the city and see all of the beautiful ‘statues’. They’re really super cool!”

Zwolle’s lights will be back for the 2018 festive season.

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