Winter Lantern Trail


Fri 11th Dec – Sun 13th Dec 2020, Newbury Town Centre starting at St Nicholas’ church

Our annual Festival of Light, reimagined for COVID safety, was a joyful celebration of light and colour, paper and willow. 3400 visitors promenaded through magical installations along the banks of the canal and around St Nicolas’ church.

Created at the 101 Outdoor Arts Creation Space by artists from Thingumajig Theatre, Rag and Bone, Handmade Parade, as well as artists from around the country, lanterns included wonderfully sculptured giant bears, seahorses and giant leaping fish.

There were colour-changing phosphorescent jellyfish giving off hues of red and blue, and spiky sea anenome-like creatures floating on the canal.

There were puppetry performances with two giant caribous with wintery scenes on their breasts, and a friendly multicoloured mythical beast nodded its head.

Streets of tiny lantern houses led to a revolving cardboard skyline resembling Newbury. Live musicians played ukulele and saxophone in sheds surrounded by stars, and giant insects and snails left a trail of nibbled vegetables.

A visual feast for the eyes, the Winter Lantern Trail was also a multi-sensory experience with shadows, silhouettes and a blend of live music and pre-recorded soundscapes. Families were invited to create their own lanterns inspired by their own homes with lantern making packs provided by 101, and 13 local schools created lantern stars, all of which were included in the installation.

Tour the lantern trail and hear audience's reactions

Audience members found the event atmospheric and magical, and felt safe and charmed:

“I think this year it feels more important than ever to have those moments of collective wonder that we haven’t been able to have, and it’s felt really really safe, but also really breathtaking at the same time, so I’m really pleased we’ve managed to make it.”

Find out more about the creatives

Rag and Bone

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Thingumajig Theatre

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Handmade Parade

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Read Suzanna Rowland's Creative Write Up


How we made the event COVID safe:

Tickets were free, but the audience pre-booked for staggered arrival times. Initially 40 tickets were allocated per 10 min arrival slot. Once we became confident that we could manage greater audience numbers safely, we released more tickets to meet high demand. A series of stewards were placed along the route, professional stewards and volunteers working together. The stewards kept in contact with radio devices and were able to halt the socially distanced queue whenever needed, to ensure that there was a reasonable flow of visitors to each area of the trail.