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Derby Season Of Light 2023


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A Fusion of Communities and Cultures Spice Up Derby Lantern Parade


More than 500 people of all ages and cultures are expected to join Derby Lantern Parade ahead of the city’s Christmas light switch on event on Saturday December 2, 2023.

The Lantern Parade is the climax of the Derby Season of Light festival, organised by city-based arts organisation Surtal Arts which has included an array of cultural events, exhibitions, music and dance performances and creative workshops with their venue partners.

The dazzling spectacle will start at 4pm at St Peter’s Church Square with an array of dance and music performances from across the world. The parade then concludes with an energetic Bollywood dance and drumming performances - adding colour and dynamism to Christmas Light Switch On.

This year, for the first time, the parade will be led by a giant costume, ‘The Spirit of Montserrat Carnival Queen’, carried by its creator, Derby-based artist Donna Fox.

‘The Spirit of Montserrat Queen’ displays 30 metres of hand painted silk, using batik and silk dyeing techniques incorporating seven flags which bring together Monserrat’s Irish, African and Arawak influences through patterns, celtic designs and volcanic ancient carvings.

Commissioned by Transported Art, five additional beautiful silk costumes with lit halos head dresses will be carried by Surtal Arts young dancers in the parade.  These have been inspired by folk art of countries across Europe, representing many of the communities in Derby.

Donna Fox was also commissioned by Surtal Arts this year to create four large festival flags.  Using Batik silk dye techniques, she engaged people from Derby's communities and created colourful flags inspired by Diwali festival of light that will be carried in the parade.

Colourful Montserrat Masqueraders who will also make their debut in the Lantern Parade - performing live drumming, saxophone music and dance featuring traditional and vibrant Caribbean inspired costumes.

They will be joined in the multi-cultural parade by Chinese dragon performers, dancers from Derby College doing a special Bollywood routine and the mighty sounds of Dhol Frequency drummers who will weave their way into the Market Place.

They will herald the way for a sparkling procession of school pupils, community groups and members of the public who will triumphantly hold aloft the traditional Diwali and Chinese lanterns.

These have been made in workshops at QUAD and Artcore and by pupils at various schools including Derby College, Brookfield Primary, Akaal Primary, St Claire’s, Griffe Field Primary, Bemrose Primary, Firs Primary, Lees Brook Academy, Asterdale  and Park View and Ivy House Primary Schools.      


Using the theme of climate action, the lanterns have been made from biodegradable materials including willow and tissue paper and lit with energy-efficient LED lights which will be held up on bamboo sticks.

The annual Derby Season of Light festival has included arts and cultural activities, events and performances in recent weeks in the spirit of peace, friendship and wellbeing  across the city and county which all share the common theme of light.

Organisers, Surtal Arts, have been working with a wide range of partners including Derby LIVE, Déda, QUAD, Artcore, National Trust and Fleet Arts and  with funding from Derby City Council and Arts Council England thanks to National Lottery players.

Surtal Arts’ chair Nisha Nath, who is a celebrated South Asian dance artist, explained that the annual family festival aimed to bring together local communities to shine a light on the diversity across the city.

“Derby is a vibrant home to 182 different cultures and I’m proud we’re able to engage so many of those communities to make Derby Season of Light happen.

“In particular, the Lantern Parade is the programme's biggest and most illuminating event where you can see people truly coming together creating their own festival in the spirit of friendship and being part of ‘one city’.

“This year there are more cultural performances and involvement by people of all ages from across the city than ever before. We shine a light on shared themes in different cultural calendars – in particular, the theme of ‘light’ that represents friendship and hope for the future. And those are the shared human experiences that we celebrate together at this time of year."

Everyone is welcome to take part in the parade.  For safety reason, please note, no glass lanterns or real flames will be allowed.

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