CHRISTMAS celebrations will begin tonight in Salisbury as the cathedral grounds transform with lights, music and art.

From Darkness to Light is the annual Advent procession held at Salisbury Cathedral, to mark the start of the festive season, the start of the Christian year and the countdown to the nativity.

The service will begin in darkness with one single candle lit, and by the end of the procession 1,300 candles will be alight and spreading colour throughout the church, accompanied by music and readings.

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A new addition to the procession for 2018 will be four art installations illuminating both The Close and cathedral, also entitled From Darkness to Light.

The artworks include a walk-through experience, a neon sign and sculptures, provided by various artists including Squidsoup and composer and artist, Richard McLester.

The community surrounding The Close are also getting involved, with neighbouring houses and trees covered in fairy lights.

Canon Robert Titley described the service as "working with two symbols", and wants the art installations to have a similar effect on the city as Les Colombes and the miracle paintings.

He said: "It has been a terrible year for Salisbury and we have been as much a part of that as anyone else.

"We want these light installations to be the cathedral's small contribution, a message of hope for the whole of the city. Art can speak when words fail."

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Jacquiline Creswell, Salisbury Cathedral’s visual arts adviser who commissioned the artwork, said: "The cathedral felt that it would be a wonderful idea to end the year on a bright note, but we thought we would take it one step further and actually visualise 'From Darkness to Light'.

"Light engages people and lifts them, especially in these darker months."

When asked how the installations would benefit the city as a whole, Jacquiline said: "I want everyone to be able to engage with it, beyond the wall, it needs to speak to everybody and actually turn the darkness, of this year, into light.

"[Art] is joy, is hope, and we can't look back, we must always look forward. After all we are a great city and have so much to look forward to and be proud of."

The procession will take place tonight (Friday, November 30) at 7pm, and tomorrow and Sunday at 5pm, with around 1,400 people able to attend each night.

The installations will turn on tonight alongside the first Advent procession and be on display until February 3, for more information visit the Salisbury Cathedral website.