Three Decades of Bolsover Lantern Parade

Celebrating 30 Years of Bolsover Lantern Parade

On Saturday 2nd December, Junction Arts staged its 30th Bolsover Lantern Parade, a cultural event that was started in 1994 to bring light, art and a strong community spirit to the town. Hundreds of people joined the parade with their lanterns and thousands more lined the streets to see one of the UK’s biggest and longest-running light processions.

Following a month of lantern-making workshops in the community and local schools, just under 400 lanterns were made for the parade. Among the hundreds of creations, there was a giant gingerbread man, Buddy the Elf, an astronaut, Father Christmas, a dragon, an aeroplane, and a huge Buzz Lightyear.

Several smaller lanterns reflected the history of the parade, with traditional miner’s lamps and stars, that were used in the very first parade.

The event has been organised by Junction Arts for three decades, in partnership with Old Bolsover Town Council, English Heritage and other community partners.  It has become a much-loved, cultural tradition for generations of people.

The annual Lantern Parade starts at English Heritage’s Bolsover Castle, travelling through the town, with the procession ending by the Christmas tree in the Market Square, with a seasonal carol concert.

Junction Arts Managing Director, Emily Bowman said: “Lantern Parades are a symbol of creativity, celebration and community. Across the UK, many small and large lantern parades have their own traditions based on diverse themes, designs, stories, and rituals. Fundamentally, these community events are creatively and physically connecting people across all ‘walks’ of life. Reaching 30 years of Bolsover Lantern Parade is such a wonderful achievement for the town, as an extraordinary community of lantern makers continue to shape and celebrate one of the area’s brightest traditions.

“This year’s parade did feel extra special as we reflected on the last three decades and the positive impact that it has had on the town. Thank you to everyone who made a lantern, or came along on the night to watch, in freezing temperatures, you are what makes this event so special, see you next year!”

There were so many amazing lanterns in 2023, but after much deliberation, the following winners were announced:

Best Small Lantern – Sophia Stray – The Fairy

Best Medium Lantern – Quinlan Longden – Shooting Star

Best Large Lantern – Sharon Poulter and family – The Astronaut

Also, special mentions go to the Shark, Bender, Buzz Lightyear, TUI Plane, Minecraft Cat and the Axolotls.

Post Details

December 21, 2023

By Kate

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Over the last three decades, Bolsover’s heritage has inspired many of the lanterns, with creations including Bolsover Castle’s famous Cavendish horses and a giant miner’s lamp to signify the town’s mining past.  There have also been nods to popular culture with Peppa Pig, Hey Duggee, Star Wars and Spiderman lanterns. The largest lantern to date was a steam train made by the Mills family in 2017, measuring over 7 metres long with actual steam, it took weeks to make.

Bolsover resident, Mel Makin (52) remembers the first parade: “I ran Bainbridge Hall Youth Club in 1994, Tina Glover from Junction Arts came to see us and started the first parade with the members of the youth club.

“The first parade was a bit chaotic that first year; it was a new thing, and the people of Bolsover were unsure what it was all about at first, but they soon came to love the idea and got involved.

“It gets better year on year, it’s just a brilliant event.  I love seeing the kids of 30 years ago with their own children, the whole community coming together it’s lovely to see.

“It’s a great asset to Bolsover, it makes a difference to people’s lives.  The workshops that Junction Arts organise empower people to create and make things, it brings families and communities together.

“The fun turns into an idea and the idea turns into a lantern.  And once they’ve made their lanterns, they have an event to go to, to show off their lantern, which they created and feel proud of.  It makes people engage properly as a family.  The event gives kids a memory, I remember it, my kids do and now I’m making memories with my grandchildren.”

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December 21, 2023

By Kate

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