HUNDREDS of people are set to take part in Warrington Lantern Parade, as it snakes through the streets before a spectacular finale amid the festive stalls at Golden Square’s Christmas Village.
The magical procession of sparkling lights organised by Culture Warrington will start at Queens Gardens at 6.45pm on December 10, and finish with entertainment by family friendly performers in Golden Square shopping centre’s Old Market Square.
Running this year’s Warrington Lantern Parade is master craftsman James Goodison, who has made more than 2,000 lanterns from paper, wood and even recycled sweet wrappers in his time and is encouraging as many people as possible to join in.
The theme of this year’s parade is Dick Whittington, to coincide with Parr Hall’s pantomime production in January 2016, so there are certain to be a few pantomime themed designs, among the festive lanterns of all sizes, shapes and styles.
James is Arts Development Project Officer for Culture Warrington and is running a series of workshops to teach people how to make lanterns with safe LED bulbs inside, including two at Golden Square, on November 28 and December 5, and others at local libraries.
The colourful parade will set off from Queens Gardens at 6:45pm on December 10 and will embark on a magical softly-lit winter tour of the town centre.
It will enter Golden Square near Boots and travel up to Debenhams, then eventually past Primark to finish in the Christmas Village where performers have been laid on, including Christmas Carol singers.
All Golden Square shops will remain open until 9pm on the night, so people can get in some Christmas shopping after enjoying the parade.
The Christmas Village also features a giant reindeer statue, called Sprout, and an array of
illuminated food and gift stalls is bound to appeal to festive shoppers from all around the region.
The Warrington Lantern Parade is a community arts celebration and features lanterns created by people of all ages, from right across the town.
It is funded by Warrington Borough Council and provided by Culture Warrington.
Culture Warrington’s James Goodison wants as many children and adults as possible to make their own homemade lanterns so they can shine a light at join in this year’s Warrington Lantern Parade.
James wants this year’s procession to shine brighter than ever before, he said: “The more lanterns we can make, the greater will be this year’s parade, said James, who is Arts Development Project Officer for Culture Warrington.
“Every year we run workshops at local schools and libraries, as well as at Golden Square Shopping Centre.
“The idea is that we show people how to make the lanterns and then once they are completed children and adults go home and decorate them in different colours and designs.
“They then bring the lanterns back out for the parade on December 10. The colourful creations we see every year are amazing.”
Despite the fact that James, has personally made so many lanterns over the years ironically he will not get to carry one high at this year’s procession.
He said: “I am one of the leaders of the parade so I have to be at the front in a high viz jacket, helping guide things along, which means I don’t get to carry a lantern, but I do get a fantastic view of them all. The procession really is a highlight of Warrington’s cultural year.”
James leads a range of arts and crafts projects each year, including the annual Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival.
Golden Square Shopping Centre manager Ian Cox said: “It’s great to have the expertise of James and his artistic team helping everyone prepare their lanterns for the upcoming parade.
“It’s a really spectacular event and we’re looking forward to seeing as many lanterns as possible parading through the town.
“We’re delighted to be hosting the finale at the Golden Square Christmas Village, and we hope lots of people will stick around to enjoy the stalls and festive treats on offer.”
Ian also urged as many shoppers as possible to come along to the lantern making sessions, bringing and their friends and families with them.
It is hoped that every one of the lovingly-crafted creations designed at the lantern making workshops will take pride of place in the parade.
Cllr Kate Hannon, executive board member for leisure, community and culture, said: “Investing in our Christmas events programme gives us opportunities to support the council’s wider objectives and compliment other events that are taking place.
Not only do we want to provide events for all to enjoy but we want to attract more residents and visitors into the town to boost the local economy and see what else we have to offer.
“There is a packed programme of festive fun and I’m sure we will see many more families visit the town centre this year.”
There will be a lantern parade workshop at Golden Square shopping centre on Saturday 5 Dececember, from 11am until 4pm.
Lanterns can be left in the care of Culture Warrington once designed and collected at Parr Hall from 5:45pm on the day of the parade.
Other lantern workshops being held at local libraries are free, but places are limited so please contact the library to book a place in advance.
These will be held on Thursday 3 December at Penketh Library (4pm – 5pm); and on Saturday 5 December at Warrington Library (2pm – 3pm); Birchwood Library (11.30am – 12.30pm); Saturday 5 December: Burtonwood Library (11am – 12pm).