Friday, 31 July 2009

Another Brighton Tradition

Burning The Clocks 2007

Tomorrow is the annual Gay Pride Parade in Brighton when thousands of people are expected to arrive in the city. I remember last year standing on the beach getting soaked by the rain as the cavalcade passed by. This year I will be working - and the forecast is for rain yet again!
But there's another Brighton Tradition that is less well known. The 'Burning The Clocks' Parade takes place every year near the Winter Solstice, just before Christmas. It is an event that anyone can attend as the parade winds it's way through the city centre and down to the beach.
Apparently, the parade was originally devised as an antidote to the excesses of Christmas! The participants wear brightly coloured costumes and make paper and willow lanterns. In the weeks leading up to the event there are lantern-making workshops for anyone taking part. It is a popular event with schools, and children form a large part of the parade, along with musicians and bands of drummers. It is amazing how large some of the lanterns can be, needing several people to carry them aloft. The lanterns are all sorts of shapes and are lit from within, making a ghostly sight as they move slowly along the streets.
On the beach a huge bonfire is lit and there is a  fireworks display. The lanterns are ceremonially thrown into the fire and the bearers make wishes for the coming year.
It is an event well-worth seeing if you're in the area and can brave the cold weather. Bring your coat and your camera!

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