The Liverpool Lanterns

Coming up right now, 1st November.
lanterns22We love a good do here in Liverpool. And if it comes with costumes and fireworks even better. Yesterday when I was in town people were queuing up outside the fancy dress shop in Bold Street. While across the road in Oxfam I had to struggle to reach the LP racks through crowds of shrieking people trying on wigs, wedding dresses and anything else fancy or scary they could get their hands on.

It’s Halloween and as anyone here will tell you that’s now ‘bigger than bommy night.’

But in all the excitement of whatever you’re doing on the actual Friday night of Halloween, don’t forget that your costumes can get a second run-out at Liverpool’s own Day of the Dead celebration the following night. Because Saturday is this year’s Liverpool Lantern Carnival.Owl

This began as a fairly small event, maybe ten years ago now. But has caught the Liverpool public’s imagination and grown into one of the largest community based events in our calendar. People from all over the city spending weeks beforehand making new lanterns for this year’s Carnival.

At the heart of it all is Liverpool’s Lantern Company, the artists who hold it all together, bring their own giant creations to the event and come up with a different and spectacular story each year to frighten and intrigue us all, knowing though that it will end in an almighty fire and exploding fireworks will fill the night sky over Sefton Park.

Even hardened cynics (yes, me) have been known to stand there at the end of it all some years and say:

“You know? I think that was the best ever use of a Liverpool Public Park during the hours of darkness.”

Here’s how it all looks.

In the days leading up to The Lanterns the park will be set up .

In the days leading up to The Lanterns the park will be set up with lights and stage sets.

And on the day itself the giant lanterns will be brought to the park and 'woken up'

And on the day itself the giant lanterns will be brought to the park and ‘woken up’

Then be taken round for a practice walk.

Then be taken round for a practice walk.

As the evening gathers.

Meanwhile the people of Liverpool will put on their witch hats if they have them. And start to get excited.

Meanwhile the people of Liverpool will put on their witch hats if they have them. And start to get excited.

While the park waits for us all, mysteriously.

While the park waits for us all, mysteriously.

I'll turn up with a light sabre, doing my annual impression of an ageing member of Black Sabbath.

I’ll turn up with a light sabre, doing my annual impression of an ageing member of Black Sabbath.

Then the Lanterns Parade will begin.

From all over the city.

From all over the city.

Thousands of lanterns.

Thousands of lanterns.

Walking together.

Walking together.

And lighting the darkness.

And lighting the darkness.

Illuminated creations.

Illuminated creations.

In a gathering story.

In a gathering story.

As the parade arrives at the gathering place.

As the parade arrives at the gathering place.

Where the story happens.

Where the story happens.

A tree with a keyhole we all saw last year.

A tree with a keyhole we all saw last year.

And a key to ignite...

And a key to ignite…

The fire...

The fire…

And the fireworks.

And the fireworks.

While we watch in awe.

While we watch in awe.

And the end is always silence. The silence of wonder. Before the growing applause, for another year’s story.

You wouldn’t want to miss something like that would you? So here are this year’s details and this year’s story.LanternsAnd Sarah’s short film from a few years back, the first year it all went mega.

See you there? With your skin on – and your halloween costumes?

And yes, keen observers will note that the 'owl and the key' bit of last year's carnival was reprised to open the new Everyman a few months later.

And yes, keen observers will note that the ‘owl and the key’ bit of last year’s carnival was reprised to open the new Everyman a few months later. Good stories matter to us here.

Update

Today, on the late afternoon of Halloween I walked over to the park to see what preparations are being made for tomorrow night.

These are being built, with wood being stacked up behind them.

These are being built, with wood being stacked up behind them.

So with considerable confidence I’m predicting four big fires.

Sound equipment is being set up.

Sound equipment is being set up.

And what eerie scary music is being used to test the equipment out? Well, Fleetwood Mac. But not the ‘Green Manalishi’ version of the band, sadly.

Some sort of team briefing is going on.

Some sort of team briefing is going on.

Supervised by a giant bee, of course.

Supervised by a giant bee, of course.

And tomorrow night it'll feel like half of Liverpool is here.

And tomorrow night it’ll feel like half of Liverpool is here.

The hear the story, see the lanterns and watch these burn.

The hear the story, see the lanterns and watch these burn.

I’d say ‘See you there’ but I probably won’t. It’ll be dark.

4 thoughts on “The Liverpool Lanterns

  1. lindsay53

    What a creative and innovative way to make a comment on the state of society!! Storytelling is so engaging and when coupled with the visual spectacle of lanterns you have something unique there. Enjoy!!

    Reply

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