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Rivers of Light

600 residents took part in Newmarket’s community lantern parade ‘Rivers of Light’ as they paraded along The Yellow Brick Road with beautiful handmade lanterns.

Newmarket’s community lantern parade ‘Rivers of Light’ took place in February 2023, bringing some cheer to the winter nights for almost 600 local residents. The community gathered to celebrate the origins of Newmarket, the chalk streams that run through the town, and the local community groups. Inspired by ancient light festivals and the history of the Newmarket, residents paraded along The Yellow Brick Road with beautiful handmade lanterns.

Newmarket Community Arts and Newmarket Community Nature Reserve looked at previous research about the Newmarket Watercourse. Through investigation and talking to ecologist Kevin Hand, it became clear that Newmarket has chalk streams running through the town. Chalk streams are now listed as a priority habitat by the Environment Agency.  Newmarket had a lantern parade a few years ago which was very popular, so Newmarket Community Arts and Newmarket Community Nature Reserve felt that another lantern parade would work well to bring people together and raise awareness about this unique habitat in Newmarket.

In the lead up to the event, Newmarket Community Arts worked with arts educator and illustrator Penny Sobr to deliver willow lantern making workshops to local groups including the Rainbows, Brownies and Guides, and the International Women’s Group organised by Sharing Parenting. There were six workshops in total with almost 200 people taking part. This included two free public drop-in workshops at The Racing Centre, to support the community in making their own willow lanterns for the parade.

Willow Lantern created at a worskshop

“Brilliant, fun, great community spirit and turnout”

There was almost 80 people performing, including musicians, dancers, and singers. With performances from Newmarket School of Dance and Slack McGirdle Morris Dancers, there was lots of entertainment along the way. A new song was also performed which was especially commissioned for the project.

The route started on the green on the Yellow Brick Road behind Frampton Close, where it took around 40 minutes for the parade to complete the journey. A shorter route of 20 minutes was also available for those who wished to join part way through. The parade then culminated at Studlands Park Social Club where there was food and live music to enjoy. 

Next year please!

Rivers of Light was presented by Newmarket Community Arts in partnership with MarketPlace – Creative People and Places and Newmarket Community Nature Reserve.