The 16th May 2018 marks the first annual International Day of Light (IDL). The steering committee of the IDL initiative encouraged grassroots activities to increase the awareness and understanding of the applications of light. One such undertaking is the program of events developed by the postgraduate students of the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton (UoS). The program focused on engaging with the public and local schools with low levels of progression to higher education. Three events were designed: an outreach masterclass, combining activities and demonstrations from well-established workshops covering light in telecommunications, manufacturing and medicine; an art competition in a local school, for students to express scientific knowledge in a creative way; and a public panel, to explore the uses of light in a multitude of disciplines and open academic research to a broader audience. This paper explains how the events built on the ORC students’ long history of outreach and the legacy of the International Year of Light. Each event is outlined in detail, explaining the objectives and the rationale behind the audience selection. The program outcomes are described, including the impact, the methods employed and the utilization of expert partners to increase the program reach (commercial media, local schools and UoS’s diversity and inclusion outreach department), and the lessons learned from the program are assessed. These experiences can be used to recycle and adapt this format for other grassroots IDL programs. This project received funding through a SPIE IDL Micro Grant.