Light the Night

by Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre in Leigh Woods, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 21st December 2020 we successfully raised £13,390 ( + est. £887.50 Gift Aid ) with 104 supporters in 28 days

For one very special night in Spring 2021, help us to illuminate the Clifton Suspension Bridge with vibrant colour!

by Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre in Leigh Woods, England, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

Sparkle and Shine!

With £15,000, we can make the illuminations even more spectacular! We'll be speaking to our lighting designer about adding additional effects such as projections, additional colours and more laser effects. 

When the Visitor Services team at Clifton Suspension Bridge were asked if we'd like to hold a Crowdfunder as part of the #SupportOurMuseums campaign, we thought we ought to take the opportunity to do something a little bit different that would lift the spirits of everyone in Bristol. With your help, we plan to spread joy across the city by illuminating the bridge in Spring 2021 with a colour chosen by you, our supporters.

We're used to hosting tours of the bridge, giving talks and lectures and providing educational activities for schools - and although we often participate in city-wide events like Walkfest, Doors Open Day and Harbour Festival, illuminating the bridge safely and ensuring that everyone can enjoy the spectacle in a Covid-secure way will be an exciting challenge for our small team! 

The Project

Our intention is to create a special moment to surprise and delight the people of Bristol. Although we light the bridge every evening with our signature white LEDs, we very rarely have the opportunity to light the bridge in colour. The 156-year-old bridge is a Grade I listed building with a roadway which must remain safe for cyclists and motor vehicles. Planning and delivering illuminations is a complex undertaking which requires bringing in specialist lighting equipment. 

We can only achieve this with your support - and for the first time ever we'd like you to help us decide which hue to choose! By selecting your favourite colour option when you pledge, you'll be creating another incredible and memorable moment in the history of the bridge and helping us to keep showing the world why Clifton Suspension Bridge is such a special landmark! 


Greening the Bridge in March 2020. Image © Tourism Ireland

Our Illumination History

Illuminations have always played a significant role in the enjoyment of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. As part of the opening ceremony on 8th December 1864, the bridge was illuminated using state of the art electric lighting, limelight and magnesium lighting. (Unfortunately, the wind was very strong and repeatedly extinguished the magnesium flares to the disappointment of the crowds.)


Illuminations marking the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Image © Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust

The bridge was subsequently illuminated with electric lights on its chains (and also sometimes with fireworks) for the following occasions: 

  • 9 August 1902 - Coronation of Edward VII. 
  • 9 July 1908 - 14,000 lights and fireworks to mark the visit of the King and Queen as part of the opening celebrations of the new dock at Avonmouth.
  • 1911 - Coronation of King George V and Queen Mary
  • 1930 - Bristol French Week
  • 1933 - 1,500 electric bulbs celebrating Bristol Brighton Week
  • 1935 - 3,000 bulbs for the Jubilee Celebrations.
  • 1951 - Festival of Britain 
  • 1953 - Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II 
  • 1959  -Centenary of the death of Brunel 
  • 1964 - 6,000 lamps celebrating the centenary of the bridge opening
  • 1977 - Queen's Silver Jubilee

In 1967 a more permanent lighting system was installed on the bridge, but due to cost it was only lit during the summer months and on special occasions including Christmas and Easter. There was great difficulty with theft of the bulbs!

By 1979-1980 a new lighting scheme had been installed, and the bridge was festooned with 4,200 25w filament lamps. This system presented difficult health and safety issues when trying to replace lamps on the rods and chains.


The illuminations seen here in the 1960s draped the hangers of the Bridge and are remembered fondly by many. Image © Mike Crozier

By 1991 the system had reached the end of its useful life and was replaced by tiny incandescent lamps contained that traced the outline of the bridge towers, chains, rods, abutments and the tollhouses. That system suffered problems of corrosion, lamp failure and pecking by birds. The current permanent illuminations were installed in 2005/06, providing an award-winning energy-efficient display. 

About the Team

Museums change lives. They increase our sense of wellbeing, help us feel proud of where we have come from, inspire, challenge and stimulate us, and make us feel healthier. They help us understand the past and face the challenges of the future. And they need the support of communities now more than ever. 

Like many galleries and museums, our Visitor Centre was hit financially by the coronavirus crisis. Although we have been able to reopen, we lost 6 months of business over the summer and missed out on welcoming 60,000 visitors to our exhibition. Tours, talks and school visits were cancelled, our volunteer shifts were cancelled, and we had to invest in new furniture and equipment in order to open our doors once again.

By supporting this project, as well as illuminating the bridge you will also be helping to keep our Visitor Services team active so that we can continue researching and sharing the history of our bridge, sharing incredible images from our archive collection, telling the stories of the men who 'walked the chains' and inspiring the next generation of problem solvers through our education programme. Thank you. 


Visitors at the Bridge

About Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust

As a charity, the Clifton Suspension Bridge Trust receives no local or national government funding. All of the money raised from tolls must go directly to maintaining and preserving the historic Bridge to the highest standards, whilst our Visitor Centre and public programmes are funded entirely by your donations, ticket sales and sales from the Visitor Centre shop.

About the Rewards

Select any reward offered and you'll be asked to vote on the colour of the bridge illuminations when you make a pledge. You can tell us more about your choice in the comments if you would like, whether that's because you'd like to see the bridge lit in your favourite hue, or because the colour represents a cause you are passionate about. We can't see how anyone has voted until the Crowdfunder has closed, so we will be just as excited as you to find out which colour has been chosen!

In addition to this,

  • Pledge £10 and we'll ensure that your name, the name of your family, or the person you are pledging for is thanked on our project webpage. We'll double-check those details with you after the Crowdfunder has closed.
  • Pledge £25 and you'll still be included in our roll of honour - but you'll also receive an exclusive 'Light the Night' tote bag, shipped anywhere in the world. The bag will feature an image of the illuminated bridge - but we can't share the design yet as the colour and lighting scheme hasn't been decided! (Our shop stocks work by talented artists from across Bristol and we have quite a few fabulous designers to choose from!) 
  • Pledge £50 to be included on the roll of honour, receive a tote bag - and get a link via email to download a high-res photographic image of the bridge illuminations which you are free to use as you choose (whether that's a Zoom background or screen saver - or getting it printed and framed to hang on your wall). 
  • Pledge £250 to become a 'super supporter'! Your name will appear in big, bold type at the top of our roll of honour, and you'll get the tote bag and digital download too. We'll also send you a signed and numbered limited edition mounted photographic print which will be reserved exclusively for super supporters!
  • Pledge £500 if you'd like to be a corporate sponsor. We'll display your logo, weblink and a short piece of copy about your business on our project webpage and ensure that you're mentioned in subsequent press releases about the project. We'll also send you a link to digitally download a high-res photographic image of the illuminations which you are welcome to use for non-commercial purposes (e.g.: framed and mounted in your offices, wall decal in your meeting room, article in your newsletter, etc).


  • What will the money be used for? The fund raised will pay for lighting equipment, generators, a lighting designer and technicians, stewards, a photographer and to create the rewards offered. It will also support the Visitor Services staff, who will plan, project manage, market and risk assess the event.
  • What happens if you don't reach your target? This is an 'All or Nothing' campaign, so your money will be refunded and the event will not take place.
  • When will the bridge be illuminated? A date has not yet been set, as plans will depend on the tier or lockdown restrictions implemented in the new year.

For further questions or comments about the project, please email [email protected].


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£25 or more

Light the Night Tote Bag

We'll send you an exclusive 'Light the Night' commemorative Tote Bag and thank you by including your name on our project webpage. Select an option to vote for your favourite colour. (You can tell us more about your choice on our Crowdfunder comments page if you would like.)

£10 or more

Pledge £10 and vote for your favourite colour!

We'll thank you by including your name on our project webpage. Select an option to vote for your favourite colour. (You can tell us more about your choice on our Crowdfunder comments page if you would like.)

£50 or more

Tote Bag and Digital Download

Pledge £50 and we'll send you a 'Light the Night' Tote Bag and a link to download a high-resolution image of the illuminations. You'll be free to use it for any non-commercial purposes. We'll also thank you by including your name on our project webpage.

£250 or more

9 of 25 claimed

Limited edition print

We'll thank you by including your name as a 'super supporter' on our project webpage and send you an exclusive signed, numbered and mounted limited edition photographic print of the illuminated bridge chosen especially for our £250 donors, along with the digital download and tote bag. (Prints are expected to be 11x14, or approximately A3 in size.)

£500 or more

8 of 8 claimed

Corporate sponsor

We'll thank you by including your company name, logo and weblink on our project webpage as a corporate sponsor and send you a link to download a high-resolution image of the illuminations. You'll be free to use it for any non-commercial purposes, including decor in your offices.

£1,000 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Flip the switch!

Someone has to turn on the illuminations - and it could be you! Join us on the evening of the event to flip the switch and light the night! We'll also thank you by including your name as a 'headline supporter' on our project webpage and send a link to download a high-resolution image of the illuminations, as well as an exclusive signed, numbered and mounted limited edition photographic print of the illuminated bridge.

£3,000 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Headline Sponsor

Your company name, logo and weblink as the lead sponsor on our project webpage, promotion of your business through CSBT's social media/project press releases and your logo displayed on the bridge during the event. A photo opportunity during the event & download of high-resolution images of the illuminations to use for non-commercial purposes. Exclusive evening hire of the Visitor Centre & Leigh Woods vaults. A talk delivered by the Bridge Master.

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