Public Health and the River of Light 2023

There are health and wellbeing benefits to be uncovered everywhere in the city…

…and the River of Light Festival 2023, began a journey of maximising the reach and benefits of every event.

The River of Light Festival 2023 aimed to increase health and wellbeing. 

The River of Light Festival 2023 is an outdoor illuminated gallery on Liverpool Waterfront.  The 2KM loop features light and sound installations from many artists.  The festival centres around community engagement and physical interaction with the exhibits.  It is a showcase of expression and diversity. The event celebrates local culture and heritage while promoting cultural exchange. 

Public Health and Culture worked together this year to enhance the health and wellbeing aspects of the River of Light Festival.​

Following the success of last year’s festival, we felt that there was an opportunity to further emphasise health and wellbeing links. We aimed to promote key messages using the event as a platform to engage the public. The event was a platform to share information about key health messages and the support available across the city.

River of Light provides a particularly good opportunity for people to engage in wellbeing promoting activity. The experience of the event encourages uptake of the 5 ways to wellbeing

  • connecting with others,
  • learning new things,
  • being active,
  • helping others,
  • taking in the present moment. 

This also leads to further opportunity to engage communities in thinking about their health. It is a platform for increasing public knowledge and access to support available in Liverpool. 

This year extra emphasis was placed on the positive impact of the event on wellbeing through the event website, marketing and materials available to the public.  This included a dedicated ‘Feel Lighter‘ health webpage hosted by Culture Liverpool. Social media activities reached over 50,000 people. And to encourage healthy participation for all free water was provided along the route. 

Colourful walls of light

River of light installation, Labyrinth – Derby Square. This is a playground made up of different translucent coloured PVC fabric, alongside a soundscape.

United by music

River of light installation showing balls of light on sticks at Pier Head

Glow – This world premiere is the second installation by Amigo & Amigo and features a giant interactive light installation inspired by the cycles of the moon, with over 40 different sounds and animations, the audience is invited to move and play throughout

For the second year, Public Health have worked with Culture to enhance the health and wellbeing aspects of the River of Light Festival.

Following the success of last year’s festival, we felt that there was an opportunity to further emphasise health and wellbeing links and to promote key messages using the event as a platform to engage the public. There was an opportunity to share information about key health messages and the support available across the city.

Positive impact

Sound speaker on low volume icon

Quiet hours

were positively received

5 icons representing wellbeing

Links to the

5 Ways to Wellbeing

supports people to think about their wellbeing 

Footsteps icon

Route map includes a

step counter

allows people to feel informed and challenge themselves to increase physical activity.

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Public Health website visits

Water bottle icon

Free water

provided along the route-encourages healthy behaviours

Boy and Girl icon

150 young people

accessed the engagement programme pairing schools, community groups and universities with this year’s artists

Three people in front of screen icon


visitors to the Event

Moon and stars icon

9 nights

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website views

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1.2 million

impressions across social media

TikTok icon


impressions on Visit Liverpool’s TikTok
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impressions relating to public heath messages​
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Public Health shared event marketing and resources with

80 Public Health Partners​

What Next?

The event encourages healthy behaviours to promote physical and mental wellbeing. It is an opportunity to engage communities in thinking about their health. It is a platform for increasing public knowledge and access to support available in Liverpool. The health and wellbeing offer this year highlights that we can further improve the impact in the future. Surveys from this year’s economic research and the expertise and insight from our event accessibility officer will be used to improve future events. Public Health will continue to work with Culture to develop the offer for 2024. 

Encouraging community engagement

Black and white line drawing of Liver building for colouring in

Poster of Liverpool Royal Liver Building for colouring in

Colouring sheets-encourages mindful reflection and provide an opportunity to share more information and signposting on a wider footprint. This is not limited to those individuals who would naturally look to attend an arts events.

Resources were a further opportunity for us to share brief health messages. They ensured that elements of the event were able to reach as many communities as possible.

Public health were able to support the distribution of colouring sheets to family and community centers. In total public health shared marketing materials and resources with 80 of our partners. In the hope of reaching those people who might otherwise believe such events weren’t for them. This encourages inclusion and empowers people to take part. The resources don’t only  promote the event. They are a tool for engaging families with our partners and support services. They can start a meaningful conversation. They can break down barriers. They can be a common interest that starts a journey to something positive long after the event.