Brits are being asked to turn off their lights at 11pm on August 4 to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
The ‘Lights Out’ project was inspired by a comment made by Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey at the outbreak of war.
On the evening of August 3, after news that Germany had declared war on France and invaded Belgium, Sir Edward Grey was looking across St James’s Park from his window at the Foreign Office as the lamps were being lit on the Mall.
It was then that he made his famous remark to a friend. Grey said: “The lamps are going out all over Europe… we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”.
At 11pm on August 4 1914 war was declared.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller announced the event yesterday. It forms part of a nationwide series of events to mark 100 years since the start of the war.
Mrs Miller said: “Ensuring a cultural element flows throughout the centenary will be a vital part of our commemorations, particularly as a way of engaging young people and helping them make that connection with the past.
“The programme will help all of us to pause in remembrance and to understand the resonance of the First World War today.”
The ‘Lights Out’ project planners are calling it ‘one of the most dramatic UK-wide events ever organised’.
They say ‘people from all four nations will be invited to turn off their lights and to replace them with one single light to remember a day that changed the world forever’.
Other commemorative events will include a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall inspired by the work of war poets including Robert Frost and Rupert Brooke.
The concert will see German composer Torsten Rasch and the Philharmonic Orchestra team up to perform a 40-minute work.
Project director Jenny Waldman said: “We are commissioning some of the world’s leading artists to respond to the events of the First World War and the wider social political, cultural and scientific developments of the period.
“And to respond with a contemporary perspective – to explore the resonance of the First World War today. I am particularly delighted about the way artists have responded to the brief and the wonderful enthusiasm our cultural organisations have shown in their support for the programme.”