Saying it in lights as Duke of York pub targets June reopening

A NEW state-of-the-art light installation has been erected on Commercial Court outside iconic Belfast pub the Duke of York as its owners target a partial reopening in June should government guidelines permit.

The installation of 21 rainbow-coloured illuminated umbrellas was commissioned by Duke of York director Willie Jack "to give members of the public hope that brighter days lie ahead".

It was created by Lisburn-based AM Light, which has been creating bespoke lighting for nearly 50 years.

The famous Belfast pub, part of the Commercial Inns group of hostelries, closed on March 16 last year and hasn't served a single pint since.

But as the vaccination programme picks up pace, Mr Jack said there is renewed hope that hospitality venues may be able to reopen in the coming months.

And he revealed that it is likely the Duke of York and its sister hostelries "will initially open perhaps from noon to 7pm on certain days" in what will likely be still-stringent post-lockdown restrictions

For now, AM Light has installed 21 meticulously hand-crafted steel umbrellas suspended over the length of Commercial Court.

The specialist hi-tech paint finish of each unit is arranged as a rainbow formation, creating a canopy of colour by day, and the installation will then come alive at night, as each umbrella features concealed colour change lighting, which can also be colour-coded for special events and dates.

A customised ‘No rain, no Rainbows’ lighting show will run each night when the Duke reopens, paying homage to the turmoil of the last year, the outbreak of the pandemic, the forced closure of business, and in recognition of how the NHS battled waves of unprecedented illness.

"The finale of the show will see the street fully illuminated with a victorious rainbow symbolising that there are brighter days ahead," he said.

Fellow Commercial Court Inns director Joanne Jack added: “It's fitting that we officially launch the installation this weekend, as the clocks go forward and the city’s largest mass vaccination centre prepares to open next week.

“It's been a very difficult year for many people. But Belfast is a resilient city. We have weathered darker days than this and there is now real hope of brighter days on the horizon – a message which is at the heart of our new umbrella installation. I hope this strikes a chord with people as we all take cautiously optimistic steps forward.”

AM Light is the only business in Northern Ireland to specialise in the craft fabrication of neon signs. It also creates illuminated art displays and commercial signage.

Chris McNevison, whose father Adrian, a skilled neon glass bender since 1958, founded AM Light in 1973, said: “We're proud to partner with the Duke of York on this major new light installation, which we hope will be a beacon of hope in the weeks and months ahead.”

AM Light projects have illuminated many prestigious brands, businesses and buildings throughout Ireland, the UK and the Middle East.