a little history
The first Lismore Lantern Parade was produced in 1994 by local artists and performers as a way for the community to showcase our creativity and honour the cycles of the seasons in an authentic, contemporary celebration. The event was also created in response to community concerns about antisocial behaviour and economic decline in Lismore’s CBD as a way to bring people back into the often deserted city centre, in a safe and celebratory environment – lighting the heart of the city.
The Inaugural Lismore Lantern Parade was organised by the Lismore Folk Trust Inc as a lead up to the Lismore Folk Festival held later that year. Today, the Lismore Lantern Parade is proudly brought to you by LightnUp Inc.
In 1994 just a few hundred people attended and today it attracts an audience in excess of 25,000 people. It must be said that in the 18 years that the Lantern Parade has been held there have only been three really wet years. There have been some cloudy ones but mostly many, many brilliant sunny, starry winter nights!!
Here’s a brief snapshot of the past seven years:
Our 'Harvest' theme might well have been a harvest of rain, because it poured two weeks before the festival and our beautiful finale site next to the river was flooded, leaving a thick sticky layer of silt on the grass - no finale here this year. So we moved, to a carpark in the centre of town. Reversed the parade route and went ahead as if it had always been planned that way!! The CBD hummed and filled with happy folk, it was good. Fine food for thought.
The growing theme from the previous year led into the theme of ‘The Great Garden’, a loose translation of Lismore's Gaelic origins - Lios Mor. Over 27,000 people filled the streets and park lands on yet another beautiful mid winter’s night.
A balmy, full moon lit night and a partial eclipse of the moon as well. Our theme for the year was ‘The seeds of tomorrow’, winning a Bronze and a Silver in the NSW Regional and State Tourism Awards.
Our theme was ‘a space for optimism…' and we surely needed it. Floods hit the city 10 days before the event leaving the finale site sodden and covered with sticky sludge. Just one week out from the event we decided to move the event finale and parade route … breathe. With fantastic support from the community, Lismore City Council, RTA and the Police we got everything done…well sort of! A site with no facilities proved to be a challenge but no more so that the night of the event which had torrential rain the day before and on the day and STILL thousands of people lined the streets as 700 wonderful lanterneers, danced the lanterns through the puddles as the skies cleared, and the stars shone brightly. Then as the last firework died the heavens opened once again and everyone fled!! But, what optimism, what great spirit, what wonderful community in the heart of Lismore.
'Awakening' - A magnificent typically sunny Winter’s day and chilly evening. A huge crowd filled the streets and were thrilled by our best theatrical performance yet, leaving the powerful fiery message for the ‘New Beginning’, referencing the local Bundjalung community’s response to the Rudd Government’s Apology earlier that year.
'Re-enchanting the dream' It poured with rain but despite the horrendous weather 10,000 brave souls fought the torrential rain to cheer the lanterns and their plucky carriers along. The fiery finale was just that, and by its close the stars were out and the moon shone down on the delighted audience!
'Mythlines' - Over 20,000 happy people filled the streets of Lismore on the longest night of the year. It was truly a magical night!