Simon Wainwright, imitating the dog

Urban Legends: Northern Lights

This winter, Absolutely Cultured presents Urban Legends: Northern Lights, a newly commissioned outdoor event featuring captivating projections and atmospheric soundscapes, brand new for Hull in 2018.

Drawing inspiration from the connections between Hull and the countries across the North Sea in Northern Europe and Scandinavia, Urban Legends: Northern Lights will spark conversations about the common stories shared between these places.

Taking inspiration from ancient mythology, fairy tales and oral history, the buildings, pavements, shop windows and winding alleys of Hull city centre will be the pages on which stories are told.

From large and impressive to intimate and moving, the city will be at its dazzling winter best as the event brings together artists from the UK and Scandinavia.

Lead artists include Dodda Maggý, Heinrich and Palmer, imitating the dog, NOVAK, Studio McGuire and Zsolt Balogh’s New Visual Paradigm, with contributions from other collaborators. Many of these artists are already familiar with the city, with previous work celebrated in Hull during its year as the UK City of Culture 2017.


Experience the ultimate bedtime story in Oh The Night! as imitating the dog explore the ritual of bedtime stories. But what happens to the characters once children have gone to sleep? Featuring an original soundtrack by Finnish Composer Lau Nau and a community choir from Hull.

Inspired by the story of Skidblandnir, a magical shape-shifting ship, Heinrich and Palmer’s Ship of the Gods will combine film, 3D laser scanning technology, sound and lighting effects to create an ethereal and otherworldly experience.

Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales are the impetus for Still Lives by Studio McGuire. Recently relocated to Hull, the McGuires will draw on their beautifully stylish aesthetic to create a series of theatrical and captivating shop window displays, with a twist.

Working with Ben Haggarty, expert storyteller and leading figure in the European storytelling revival, Zsolt Balogh’s New Visual Paradigm returns to Hull with Lost Paradise.  In Queens Gardens, the audience can gather round an encampment to hear the fireside stories of where our shared Northern culture began, back before the time of the Vikings, when the North Sea was dry land.

In Avenue, Newcastle-based Novak will create an installation which will play out beneath the audience’s feet. The piece will explore the iconic textile designs of the 20th century from Hull and Västra Götaland in Sweden and the stories and references woven and printed into the designs.

Through Absolutely Cultured’s collaboration with Curated Place, producers of Hull 2017’s North Atlantic Flux Festival, Icelandic artist and composer Dodda Maggý has spent time in residency in Hull, exploring the stories to be realised through her piece Alda (meaning ‘wave’ in Old Norse). Working with the University of Hull to create a new music and light installation work, performed by a new ensemble, the installation will draw on a series of ancient legends and stories of monsters from the deep and will be projected onto one of Hull’s iconic buildings.

The work of Absolutely Cultured would not happen without the generous support of funding partners, particularly Arts Council England and Hull City Council. Urban Legends: Northern Lights has been made possible with the support of our corporate partners including Wykeland, Rollits and BP.

This event is free and unticketed.

Further information for this event can be found on our Urban Legends: Northern Lights FAQs.

Get involved in Urban Legends: Northern Lights. 

Interested in getting involved in Urban Legends: Northern Lights and helping to bring to life one of these large-scale artworks?

In association with Hull Freedom Chorus, we’re looking for up to 200 people to be perform live as a chorus for Oh The Night! by imitating the dog. No previous performance experience needed – expect fun, camaraderie and singing in English and with made-up sounds! You would need to commit to a minimum of two workshops and two performance sessions. For more information email

We’re also looking for submissions to be part of New Visual Paradigm’s Lost Paradise – inspired by Scandinavian and British tales of the North Sea. One of these, Norway’s Legend of Utrøst, tells of a magical fishing boat that brings good fortune to its owner. People of all ages are invited to complete a colour illustration of what this boat could look like. The most magical will be used to create 3D models to incorporate into the final piece. To take part, download this information pack and submit a photograph or scan of your artwork to Why not come and see if your artwork is floating in Queens Gardens between 29 November -2 December? Work must be submitted by the 20th November.

29 Nov – 2 Dec 2018

Hull City Centre

5pm until 10pm

Upcoming events