The very first Guernsey Lantern Parade was in March 2014 under the auspices of the Guernsey Arts Commission which in turn is part of the Culture & Leisure Department of the States of Guernsey. It was a great success but, due to budget cuts, was not going to be affordable in 2015 without outside sponsorship and financial support.
The Trustees of the Sarah Groves Foundation were approached for support and looked at the event in great detail. They discovered that, although the event itself was restricted to a few hours on a single night, there was much more to it than that.
- Firstly, of course, it involved children, a lot of children
- Secondly, it involved children from all walks of life, including a significant number who were educationally challenged in some way
- And most importantly, they all had to make their own lanterns - it was most definitely not just a one-night affair.
The Trustees unanimously agreed to support the event in 2015 and on its next two scheduled dates in 2017 and 2019 at a total cost to the Foundation of at least £22,500. As a result, the Guernsey Arts Commission did a wonderful job in organising a series of workshops in schools, clubs, etc. around the island throughout the dark and cold winter nights leading up to March 2015. They also ingeniously made the very large dragonfly lantern that led the parade – a dragonfly being the logo of the Sarah Groves Foundation. The end result, despite the very best attempts of the weather to thwart it, was a magnificent parade with over 500 lantern-bearers and almost 2,000 people in total taking part.
A key part of the event was the music which was provided by the colourful UK-based drummer band Sparks who led the parade and played for a hugely appreciative audience at the end of the parade. They were supported by local band Samba Burros.
Due to the enormous amount of work involved, a joint team has now been established between the Guernsey Arts Commission and the Sarah Groves Foundation with a view holding a Guernsey Lantern Parade every other year – hopefully with many improvements built in. This biennial event will, it is hoped, become an important part of the annual ‘Guernsey calendar’. The next one will take place in March 2017, which will hopefully be a very welcome harbinger of Spring.
The next Guernsey Lantern Parade is scheduled for March 2017. Be there if you can or contact Guernsey Arts Commission on +44 (0)1481 709747 if you would like to take part in any of the pre-event workshops.