At Christmas time we let in light and we banish shade

Okay, I’m definitely drinking feeling the Christmas spirit now. And, yes, I’m quoting Band Aid with this post’s title.

Yesterday we participated in Newbury’s sixth annual Festival of Lights. A procession of hundreds upon hundreds of paper lanterns of all shapes and sizes – from a giant horse to dolphins, penguins, mushrooms, Minecraft characters and Minions – made its way through the town centre before gathering in the market square to finish with live music and an air of general conviviality.

We hadn’t been involved in previous years but the boys had been keen to get involved after Isaac had made his own lantern in an organised workshop at his school – a fantastic idea for engaging children. They were even more excited once we arrived and they realised how big an event this was, and they were so proud to take their place in the procession.

Toby and Isaac Newbury Festival of LightEven Kara, already knackered after a long day out, was swept up in the party atmosphere. After we had bumped into several neighbours and friends while assembling for the procession, she was passed from one set of shoulders to the next, gleefully enjoying a bird’s-eye view of everything.

Kara Newbury Festival of LightThe symbolism of light conquering the darkness and cold of winter goes back to pagan festivals, typically marking the winter solstice, but in a contemporary context it’s really as much a celebration of community as anything. At a time when a combination of ignorance (yes, you, Donald Trump) and darker forces (not a Star Wars reference) seeks to create fear and division, anything that brings people of all backgrounds together in a spirit of joy and sharing is fine by me.

Lanterns Newbury Festival of LightIt may have been a cold winter’s evening but there was an unmistakable warmth around town yesterday evening. And not just because of all those lit lanterns.


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