Review: Speed of Light, Holyrood Park

Runners at the Speed of Light event
Runners at the Speed of Light event
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Usually, anyone embarking on a night-time sojourn up Arthur’s Seat during the festival probably falls into one of three categories: young lovers, drunken adventurers or those seeking a prime spot to watch the fireworks.

Last night, however, the extinct volcano was teeming with people, the majority of whom looked like they’d come straight from the set of Tron. Wearing specially-created light suits, they were performing as part of Speed Of Light – an ambitious event which aims to fuse art and sport as part of both the Edinburgh International Festival and the London 2012 Festival.

They were joined by hundreds of walkers – each of us equipped with purpose-built lighted walking sticks – plus dozens of nosey souls who’d braved the darkness for a freebie. As we worked our way from the Palace of Holyroodhouse, up past the Crags towards the 822-foot high summit, the park came alive with a riot of colour as the volunteer runners got to work, the patterns they created on the darkened landscape constantly changing.

Tackling the trickier parts of the route meant it’ wasn’t always easy to marvel at what was happening around us, but then it’s public art, the whole point being to participate, not just spectate.

It can be hard work on those steeper climbs, but the pace isn’t onerous and with regular stops to admire the light show there was ample opportunity to catch your breath.

It’s certainly spectacular, but does it work as a piece of art? Well, you’ll just need to pull on your walking boots and decide for yourself.

Rating: ****

• Speed of Light, Holyrood Park, 10-12, 15-19, 22-27, 29-31 August and 1 September. Every 15 minutes from 9.15pm – 11pm, £24 (£18), www.eif.co.uk/speedoflight