I am so grateful to my friend for recommending this event to me. Over dinner last week she described the New Mills lantern parade, followed by a street party. I hadn’t heard about it before, and I was intrigued.
Further reading revealed that New Mills Community Festival runs for 2 weeks, giving residents a chance to come together, get creative, and have a party. The Lantern Parade took place on Saturday night, just as the sun went down.
With willing friends in tow, I set off to New Mills, with only a rough idea of where to park, directions to the start of the parade, and absolutely no idea what to expect.
As soon as we arrived there was a sense of something about to happen. Hundreds of people, many armed with home made lanterns in every shape you could imagine, all heading in the same direction. Finding the start was easy – we only had to follow the crowd.
People gathered outside The Rock Tavern at the entrance to the Torrs, where the parade began. Many were dressed up and many more were carrying lanterns. We started to wish we’d made one of our own.
Unsure whether to follow the parade or watch from the side of the route, in the end, we decided to get involved.
As daylight faded, the impact of the lanterns through the Torrs intensified. There was a magical feeling in the air. Looking down through the trees you could catch a glimpse of the flickering procession ahead.
The route was lined with lanterns,
and impressive lantern sculptures, which appeared to have been made by local schools or community groups.
Even the waterfall was lit for the occasion.
The flow of people slowed to listen to the live bands,
marvel at the amazing bubble man,
and soak up the atmosphere.
With no sense of rush it was all about taking in the sights and sounds, smiling at the creativity and humour that had gone in to so many of the lanterns, and experiencing something different.
After crossing the Millennium Bridge, the route wound back to street level and culminated in a street party. With the lanterns at the heart of the event, there was even a ‘Lantern Creche’ where revellers left their creations to rest while they enjoyed the festivities.
Shops and bars stayed open late to welcome visitors. There was street food and beer on offer, as well as additional entertainment in the form of fire jugglers, an unusually tall lady,
and the bubble man, who made another appearance and was undoubtedly the star of the show.
Live music from local bands, including Manchester boys Blank Cheque,
contributed to the party atmosphere and gave adults and children alike the opportunity to let their hair down and have a boogie.
We all agreed to go back next year, and thoughts are already turning creative – how will we design our lantern?
For details of other events visit www.newmillsfestival.com or follow them on Facebook. I will be heading back in daylight to sample the walking routes in the area. Trains from Manchester Piccadilly run every hour on Saturdays.