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 30,000 people. It must be said that in the 22years that the Lantern Parade has been held there have only been three really wet years. There have been some cloudy or damp ones but mostly many, many brilliant sunny, starry winter nights!!

brief snapshot

Our festival celebrated 21 years of bringing light to the heart of the city on Saturday 20 June 2015 and our theme was 'Love a Parade – Festivals of the World'. As we joined the iconic festivals and parades around the world we celebrated the amazing, crazy, wild and wonderful parades and processions loved by millions.  2,500 happy people joined the parade in clear crisp winter’s night, dancing along to 9 parade bands and live music in the arena.

We celebrated 20 years bringing light to the heart of the city on Saturday 21 June 2014 and our theme was ‘ 20 light years on...' When we were researching and dreaming about the theme we found that there was a small earth like planet in the constellation of Libra – 20 light years from our Earth. We took this for our theme this year. It conjures images of planets, and galaxies and returns us to our original concept celebrating the Winter Solstice. It also touches nicely on our organisation’s name LightnUp, working with light.

Imagine … this was our theme for 2013. Inspired by the Lismore City Council’s highly innovative 14 month community consultation project Imagine Lismore (see www.lismorecitycouncil.com.au) The key to the Imagine Lismore community consultation was to randomly select citizens from right across the Local Government Area to participate. A community-wide survey was held to gauge people’s wants and needs for their future. A Citizens’ Jury was then chosen to look at the feedback and democratically develop a vision and set of values for Lismore, embedding community ideals at the heart of all Council processes and setting the direction for the next decade.

And with the imagination needed in 2013 we re-imagined the parade itself, once again starting on the river bank, wending our way thru the heart of the city and through our  intriguing laneways to the all weather security of Oakes Oval for the Fiery Finale. At last we were able to create a small income stream, offer awesome seating and turn a multimillion $ sports oval into an arena for our spectacular complete with our signature massive bonfire.

Not one blade of grass was hurt in the burning of the 16m ship the Imagineer, which was carried by 32 brave souls through the streets from the river bank. With the Imagine Lismore ideals in mind the lantern parade themes created the parade and the beautiful fiery finale. Participants from the Citizens’ Juries created special Dream Chests which they carried in the parade and placed on the bonfire.

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.

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