Gainsborough was a sight to behold as record numbers lit up the streets on Saturday evening with their colourfully-decorated handmade lanterns.
More than 300 people joined the mesmerising Illuminate Parade through the town centre, which marked the start of the Mayflower 400 commemoration year.
Illuminate Gainsborough is the first parade of its kind to take place across the UK and was inspired by the words of leading Separatist William Bradford, who famously said: “As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.”
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Thanks to a £100,000 grant from Arts Council England, the parade this year was biggest and best yet.
Anna Scott, Mayflower 400 officer at West Lindsey District Council, said: “We’re really pleased to have worked with schools and community groups in and around Gainsborough to prepare for the parade.
"This year we made candle lanterns with professional artists, featuring the names of the 102 Mayflower passengers.”
Starting at the United Reformed Church, community groups, young people and families paraded through the town with an impressive array of lanterns, before watching a spectacular light projection show onto the walls of Gainsborough Old Hall.
Angela Lawrence, vice chairman of West Lindsey District Council, said: “The support we’ve received from Arts Council England has meant that we’ve had an impressive start to our Mayflower commemorations, which we’re pleased to be able to develop over the forthcoming year.
"I would like to congratulate everyone involved with the Illuminate Event, the lanterns were extraordinary, not only the professional ones but those made by the children at the workshops - all of them brilliant and unique.
"The service was pertinent and the Rhubarb Theatre Company offered a very entertaining version of a potted history. It was very well attended and I loved the lady on stilts lighting the way for us all - a wonderful idea.
"The parade itself was quite a spectacle, along with the amazing light show on the Gainsborough Old Hall.”
Beth Evans, from 2nd Gainsborough Guides, joined the parade and said: “We made our lanterns with artist Julie Willoughby, and this is our second year of doing this.
"It’s been a lovely event and there has been some stunning lanterns. We are already starting to plan for next year.”
Pam Craig attended the event with her two children, Eloise, 3, and eight-year-old Reece, who created his candle lantern at Connexions in the town.
Pam admitted: “It’s been absolutely amazing and it’s lovely to see a lot of people,” while Reece added: “I have had lots of fun on the lantern parade.”
An exciting programme of events has been planned for the next 12 months, which offers an engaging, educational and insightful range of activities throughout 2020 for local residents and visitors alike.
Events include music from Seth Lakeman’s A Pilgrim’s Tale Tour, which will be at Trinity Arts Centre in Gainsborough; talks including Rachel Carter’s Spirit of the Mayflower. Adventures of a Pilgrim Woman, at Gainsborough Old Hall; and The Story of Mayflower II exhibition at Gainsborough Heritage Centre.
Gainsborough’s Mayflower Cultural Programme is supported by Gainsborough Town Council and a range of other local partners.
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