Story by Graham Jones | Photos by Patrick Amber, Neill Schofield, Sarah Truman, Deborah Blencowe and Jackie Jones
Local people had been preparing for the Beacons Lantern Procession for weeks: making arrangements, fantastic lanterns and doing all the other stuff that goes on behind the scenes. There had been an article in the Star in the previous week and excitement was building up. Then, on 12th October, it just exploded into action. What a blast of colour, artistry and sound! What a wonderful atmosphere! Hundreds of people sharing the magic! Children with faces agog! Burngreave at its very best!
The dozens of lanterns represented a wide range of animals, humans and not-so humans. They were created by a number of local organisations including Sheffield Sea Cadets, Pitsmoor Adventure Playground, Watercliffe Meadow Community Primary School, Friends of Parkwood Springs, Open Kitchen Social Club, St. Catherine’s Scouts, Christ Church Youth club, Friends of Burngreave Cemetery and Burngreave Clean Air Campaign.
This event is not competitive but run in a spirit of cooperation with everyone trying to do their best for the success of the event. This year’s creations were joined by some made last year, when the weather forced the cancellation of the procession.
We set off from the playing field to wend our way to the beacon area. It tried to rain but the strength of our enthusiasm warded it off.
The Sheffield Samba Band were amazing and played continuously before, during and after the procession. The players were splendid with their pink costumes adorned with fairy lights. I would have come just to see them.
Walking through the woodlands with the band, lanterns and crowds was simply joyful but there were more surprises ahead: there were a range of tableaux of woodland animals in the clearings in the woods and other lanterns hanging from the trees.
We paused for a few moments at the beacons before Neill Schofield, of the Friends of Parkwood Springs, turned the parade around and led it downhill, with a strikingly beautiful peacock lantern sashaying to the band.
There is always another ‘aaah’ moment when we come down a bit further and catch our surprise first sight of the city centre lights. It is as though they had been put there as yet another attraction by the festival’s organisers. Then we came back down to earth and unwound with some samba music.
Rachel Stevenson and her family had travelled in pouring rain from Stocksbridge and described the festival as “Brilliant! A triumph!”
The hard work and creative juices of local people had come together to make a masterpiece. Many people shared my view that this was the best Lantern Festival ever.
Patrick Amber (whose mundane role title as “workshop leader” belies his commitment and artistic genius) has told me that some people are already thinking about what they will be making next year.