A: 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, WC2N 5BY

A history of neon

From cafés to clubs to carnivals, neon is everywhere but why the huge fascination?

Created: 18th Apr 2018
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Richard Wheater says that our fascination with neon is akin to our long-standing attraction to fire.

Everywhere we look, there’s neon. It’s in shop and restaurant windows, adorns websites, and springs out at you from Instagram feeds and Facebook photo albums. Neon has even replaced strings of fairy lights as the illumination decor of choice in homes. It’s bright, it’s playful, and there’s no place it doesn’t belong.

It’s a love affair that dates back to 1898 when chemist William Ramsay and his assistant discovered it in their laboratory at University College London. French chemist Georges Claude began experimenting with it in 1902 and introduced it to household use by fashioning the world’s first neon lamp. 10 years later, one of his business associates sold the first commercial neon sign (not surprisingly, to a barber) and by 1920 Claude’s neon lighting system was lighting up the Paris Opera House and adorning car dealerships in Los Angeles.

By the 1960s, neon experienced a cultural backlash when it became associated with red-light districts. It also characterised the desolate and run-down urban cityscape that emerged during the 1950s and never completely disappeared. 

Despite this setback, neon survived and is more popular than ever today. Richard Wheater, the innovative artist, is renowned for his neon creations and says that our fascination with it is akin to our long-standing attraction to fire. Marcus Bracey of the emporium God's Own Junkyard even insists that neon has ‘soul’ and provides an instant dose of happiness. It is a simple handmade product containing an 800C flame. No wonder we now find neon displayed in shops, art galleries, and other upscale establishments. It has effectively become a guiding light for society in the midst of change and progress.

Every year, 8 Northumberland Avenue host fully themed Christmas parties throughout December. Two floors, two rooms, two themes. This year, The Old Billiard Room will be transformed into the nostalgic, Neon Carnival. guests will enter the wonderland of lights, sounds and scents that will bring back cherished memories whilst also be the setting of making many more.

Christmas is easily the most popular time of year at 8 Northumberland Avenue, with parties holding 100 to 1000 guests packing our venue nearly every night in December. These events are the results of months of research combined with the brilliant creativity of our event organisers. It is our goal to have clients keep returning for their Christmas celebrations, year after year. Each time being more ‘wowed’ than before. 

8 Northumberland Avenue is proud to host many Christmas parties in central London once December rolls around. It’s a grand spectacle that is also a Christmas tradition for many of our clients.

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