Northern Lights return to help save medieval stained glass

York Minster will be illuminated by a spectacular light and sound projection this month to help raise funds to protect its historic windows, which hold more medieval stained glass than any other single building in Britain.

The Northern Lights installation is returning to the cathedral from 24 – 31 October for an eight-night run, following its debut to sell-out audiences in June 2018.

Designed by artists Ross Ashton and Karen Monid from double Guinness World Record holding company The Projection Studio, the installation will transform the Minster’s cavernous Nave with images and audio inspired by its stained glass and stone.

Funds raised by the events will support the cathedral’s £11m, 20-year campaign to ensure that all 128 of its mostly medieval stained glass windows have protection from the elements.

Neil Sanderson, Director of the York Minster Fund (YMF), said: “York Minster has more medieval stained glass in situ than any other single building in the country and its windows, which date back to the 12th century, are regarded as one of the wonders of the world.”

“Currently around 55% of these works of art have no protection from the elements, leaving them exposed to centuries of corrosion and decay caused by moisture and the environment.”

“The Northern Lights events will not only allow people to see and interact with the Minster in a different way, but also support our campaign to ensure these historically important masterpieces are protected for generations to come.”

Launched in 2017, the 20-year project sees the cathedral working in partnership with York Glaziers Trust, Britain’s oldest and largest specialist stained glass conservation studio, to provide state-of-the-art protective glazing to the currently exposed windows.

The protective glazing will help stop the decay caused by the environment and buy much needed time for conservation work.

The project will cost £11m to complete over the next two decades. To kick-start the fundraising, the YMF secured an endowment grant of up to £1m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), which means that every £1 donated by the public is matched by the YMF and NLHF, up to a maximum of £1m.

Following successful fundraising initiatives in 2018, it is hoped that the Northern Lights events will raise the final money needed to reach the £1m target by the end of this year – two years ahead of the 2021 deadline.

The £2m fund will then be invested and used to help pay for the ongoing conservation work at the Minster. Although further funds will need to be raised to complete the project, the endowment fund will provide a solid long-term reserve for the work.

The Northern Lights installation, which has been produced in collaboration with experts from the University of York and Durham University, will be shown twice each evening at 7pm and 9pm from 24 – 31 October (6pm and 8pm on Sunday 27 October). Tickets cost £6 in advance, £8 on the door and are available via or by calling 01904 557256.