Lanterns for Salisbury – 2007

If Lanterns for Salisbury 2006 was big then the growing popularity of what is becoming a major annual event for South Wiltshire saw more groups, more workshops and so much more willow, sticky-tape, torches and smiles make Lanterns for Salisbury 2007 even bigger and better.

The delight of all those involved was quite wonderful to see and be a part of as the culmination of months of our rural and town community building workshops saw such a parade winding its way through the streets of Salisbury that at one point the ‘head’ at the junction of Blue Boar Row and Queen Street could see the ‘tail’ just entering Scot’s Lane working its way from Salisbury Arts Centre in Bedwin Street. See an aerial view here to gain an idea of just how long the parade was!

“The enthusiasm and interest that the Lantern project has generated, and the happiness of the entire project, have all been more than I could have dreamed of when we first talked over the idea”
Alex Grant, Community Artist 2007

“Probably the largest parade I have ever seen in Salisbury, certainly the best lantern parade!”
Mr John Smart, 78 year old Salisbury resident

“This Lantern Parade is what Christmas is all about, all coming together to celebrate as one big smiling family”
Mrs Fay Goodall, Harnham,

Prior to the parade starting you could feel the buzz as Meridian TV broadcast live coverage, radio broadcasters ran interviews and newspaper photographers snapped away amongst the ever growing crowd of lantern bearers. People of all ages, sizes and abilities mingled together, waiting for the expectant start as at 6.30pm sharp the parade began its slow but sure trail through the streets of Salisbury.

From the outset it was obvious that the people lining the streets took pleasure in seeing the parade. Mind you, even we were surprised at just how long the parade was. Everything went very well including for a short period of time creating a traffic free route through the centre of town.

Arriving in the Cathedral grounds we headed for the Great West Doors where we were met by very welcoming volunteers offering mince pies. Unfortunately, as the Bishop of Salisbury arrived to give a blessing, it was then we realised the one thing we had forgotten… lights! Hundreds of lanterns around us and no spotlight for the speechmakers (a powerful torch was eventually found to save the moment and let us see who was speaking).

And then it was over. The lanterns and their makers started to wend their way home. Quite a number of lanterns where left behind and our thanks go to the many volunteers who helped to clear them away – remember for next time folks, the canes, lanterns and torches are yours to keep.

As happened last year people would ask what the parade was in aid of? Was it to raise money? Was it to raise awareness of anything?

The answer is that this parade, like last years and those to come, is the culmination of community building workshops. Workshops that enable minority groups to work on a creative project and then by bringing those groups together, to be a part of something big and enable them to show off their handy work. And then, wether as a member of the parade or as part of the audience, to just enjoy the spectacle of it all. Nothing more, nothing less, and nothing to pay for all those who take part.

We’ve learnt more lessons – both organisational and managerial – but most importantly the continued need for local funding to continue this spectacular project as an annual event.

Despite all the positive feedback we have received from our many large scale public involvement projects over previous years, and the Government encouraging us to rebuild and strengthen our society links, it is still very difficult to raise funds for theses community arts projects.

We were therefore extremely lucky to gain the support of the Community Foundation for Wiltshire and Swindon, who part funded the project through a generous grant towards workshops for Young People.

If you wish to help by making a donation, an offer of sponsorship or through other help please contact us here.

Our thanks to the
South Wiltshire Mencap,
Salisbury District Council,
Salisbury Plain Army Welfare,

Salisbury Journal,
The Walter Guinness Trust,
Lakeland Plastics,
Marks & Spencer Salisbury staff team.

We would also like to thank Arts & Business who co-supported two of our business sponsors, enabling several disabled workshops to be delivered directly at the point of need.

And once again our particular thanks must go to Alex Grant of Toozalii whose vision and stamina made this year’s parade such a resounding success.