University lights up for 200th celebration

The University kicked off our bicentenary celebrations with a dazzling light display and fun filled evening of music, poetry and performance. We ‘painted the town purple’ on Wednesday, 17 January with a brilliant pathway of light illuminating Oxford Road to mark the start of our 200th anniversary celebrations.

Light Up, the first in a series of exciting bicentenary events planned throughout 2024, saw our campus transform from a frosty white to a resplendent purple. Iconic buildings including the Whitworth Arch and Manchester Museum glowed bright in our signature colour.

Our campus was truly abuzz, with hundreds braving the cold to discover the surprises along the purple pathway of light on Oxford Road before warming up at the special light filled ‘Late’ event at the Museum, featuring poetry, music and activities – including a disco makeover for our famous spider crab.

Illuminated surprises

On Booth Street East, a line from Mast Year: A poem for the bicentenary of The University of Manchester – ‘I’m meant to be here’ – beamed in huge neon letters, where it will remain until the end of February.

Over at AMBS, a purple bee danced and spun, encouraging visitors to continue their journey to University Place, where a projection shone a light on our inspiring community. The projection featured just some of the people who have made – and continue to make – a real difference, at our University, in Manchester and around the world.

Museum moments

Over in the Museum, Dishoom provided chai lattes to warm cold hands before curated tours; family lantern-making workshops; uplifting performances and intriguing displays, such as the amazing colour-changing, sustainable concrete from Graphene Innovations Manchester.

Highlights from the evening included alumnus, David McFarlane, with his band (and fellow alumni) using music to recreate the experience of sound-to-colour synaesthesia, turning sound into coloured light and the announcement of this year’s micropoetry competition from the Centre for New Writing and Creative Manchester. Find out more about the competition and its special 200-year theme.

Globally connected

Manchester is a truly global University, and our Light Up celebrations stretched across the world.

In Shanghai, our China Centre set the CITI Bank Tower aglow in a riot of colour. In Dubai our Middle East Centre conducted a rousing countdown, while our South East Asia Centre in Singapore gathered current students and esteemed alumni for a jubilant reception. The celebrations will continue in Hong Kong when a purple, illuminated tram traverses the financial and heritage areas of Hong Kong Island for three weeks, spreading news of our special anniversary.


More information
  • Share in the excitement of the evening by taking a look at Light Up moments from our alumni, staff and students.
  • Add your own highlights by using #UoM200 on your Light Up social content.