The Lantern Parade

East Belfast Lantern Parade 2003 poster

The first Lantern Parade event "Making Light" took place in December 2003. A couple of months prior to that, Beat took 12 artists on a residential visit to Welfare State International in Cumbria, to see the Ulverston Lantern Festival. WSI started the Lantern Parade there, over 20 years ago, after seeing lanterns in Japan.

The 2003 East Belfast event was a huge success.

Groups Involved
  • Age Concern (East Belfast & Castlereagh)
  • Ardcarn Tenants & Residents Association
  • Ashfield Girls' High School
  • Avoniel Play Centre
  • Ashmount Community Association
  • Artscare
  • Carew II Centre - After school club
  • Church of Ireland in Ballymacarrat – St Patrick’s, St Martin’s and St Christopher’s
  • Ballymac Playzone Afterschool's club
  • Ballymac Senior Citizens Monday Club
  • Ballymac Youth
  • Ballyoran Centre
  • Beacon Centre
  • BeatStyle
  • BELB EB Area Youth Project
  • BIFHE
  • Dee Street Powerzone
  • Dee Street Youth
  • East Belfast Citizens Advice Bureau
  • East Belfast Community Education Centre
  • East Belfast Independent Advice Centre
  • East Belfast Mission
  • Edgcumbe Training and Resource Centre
  • Engage with Age
  • Greenway Womens Centre
  • Inner East Youth Project
  • Inverary Community centre
  • Junction Club
  • Lord Street Tenants Residents Association
  • Mersey Street Residents Association
  • New Border Generation (Carlingford)
  • Newtownards Road Womens Group
  • Oasis After Schools
  • Oasis Cross Community
  • Ravenhill Adult Centre
  • Round Tower Club
  • Short Strand Youth Group
  • Short Strand Senior Citizens 
  • St Joseph's Parish
  • Sydenham Cross-Community Support Centre
  • Walkway Women’s 
  • Walkway Ravers

We did workshops with people from Carlingford and a youth group travelled from Salford, Liverpool to take part. Local musician, Andy McCarroll composed the theme music. We have grown participation and the audience over the years and now in 2008, as well as groups coming from across Belfast, there are participants traveling from places such as Armagh, Derry and even Brussels and Italy to take part!

Comments from the Workshops Programme of the first "Making Light" Lantern Parade

"They should come to Ballymac more often"  Ballymac Senior Citizens

"Very good and I would do it again"  Dee St Powerzone

"Should have more schemes like this one"  Short Strand Senior Citizens 

"Very therapeutic"  East Belfast Independent Advice Centre

"Well explained, relaxed & enjoyable"  Leader Training participant

"Leaders were nice. Fun and enjoyable, thank you"  Ballymac Youth

"Very enjoyable & friendly workshop"  Walkway Women’s

General Feedback from the Event

“It gives you a warm glow to see all those young people and older people sharing the same event.”

“It’s lovely to see something in our own area.  This should happen more.” Resident in Wilgar St (Parade starting point).

“It’s brilliant!  What a lovely way to start Christmas off!”   Resident in Wilgar St

“I think it’s great, the other residents do too.  We plan to walk down with it.  These are my grandchildren.  They made these this morning.”  Resident in Wilgar St indicating 3 small boys with lanterns improvised using torches and coloured tissue paper.

“I liked the drums and the dancing and the lanterns.”  Observer on parade route.

“I saw the Carnival in the city centre a couple of years ago.  It’s about time we had something like that here.”   Observer on parade route

“It’s been such a successful night.  It was so exciting to be part of it.  We felt very much included.  I hope it will be yearly.”  Leader of special needs group in parade.

“It was absolutely brilliant!  I couldn’t get over all the different types of lighting and decorations and costumes and things.”   Leader of children’s group in parade.

“I heard the noise outside my house and came out to see what was going on.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  It’s absolutely lovely!”    Resident on parade route.

“I saw it on TV and came down to see what was happening.  It’s brilliant!”   Observer at Connswater

“It’s lovely, very theatrical, great costumes and lights.”  Observer at Connswater

“It’s great. Things always happen in West Belfast so why not in East Belfast?”    Observer at Connswater.

“What a fabulous event!  It’s so different.  It gives a whole new face to East Belfast.  It’s so positive and colourful and great for the kids.  It feels so multi cultural!”   Observer at Connswater, an American currently living on Upper Newtownards Road, who saw the event advertised on the Website.

“This is a throw back to the community spirit that Belfast used to have…..  No, it does still have it.  It just needs to be tapped in to.”   Observer at Connswater.

“Very impressed!  Great to see young people doing something positive.”    Elderly viewer from Lisburn whose family were participating in the parade.

“Congratulations on what proved to be a wonderful event.  The end result was a fantastic realisation of your plans for a showcase event in East Belfast.  What must have been a logistical nightmare seemed to run very smoothly and the standard of the end performance (in which we played a small role) was exceptional…… Hopefully you’ve managed to light a few positive sparks in the area.”    Letter from participating community group post project.