HUNDREDS take part in a magical lantern procession.

Arts Council funding enabled scores of workshops to be held across Rossendale over three months to help the community create and decorate their own lanterns.

A mini-zoo came to life as the animal-themed procession saw illuminated tigers and rhinos mixing with a giraffe, flamingo, a penguin, unicorn, elephants, a leopard and many more creatures and creations. As they assembled, Oakenhoof Cloggers set the mood ; then the Light Up the Valley lantern parade left Globe Studios, Toll Bar, Stacksteads, and snaked around Stacksteads Recreation Ground to the sound of the rhythmic Dhol Drummers. Then it silently weaved its way along the riverbank, passing illuminated art installations which were hidden in the trees and banking.

Chloe Hanson, eight, from Stacksteads, made Daisy the leopard. She said: “If I close my eyes my imagination makes me think all the animals in the lanterns will come alive and we can go somewhere magical.”

Lead artists Ruth and Felix Evans, along with emerging artists Andy Keir and Chloe Dawson, organised the making sessions.

Caroline Eccles, from Waterfoot, attended Globe Studios when a week of adult-only workshops was held. She said: “Everyone was making animals and I thought a unicorn would be a good challenge because I only made a small lantern last year. Thank you to Ruth and Felix for giving me the confidence to create the unicorn. After the procession he is going to live in my house and next year I will be bringing him back to the parade.”

In The Glade, Blow Jangles entertained while participants enjoyed potatoes and chocolate to celebrate the parade’s success.

Mayor of Rossendale Councillor Colin Crawforth said: “I came to the procession last year for fun and this year has been even better.
“There have been more people and more lanterns. The organising committee has worked really hard – it is amazing.”

Artist Ruth said: “The lantern procession is the most magical event to happen in Rossendale in the whole year. Even the weather was fine.
This year’s parade was even better than last year and has seen hundreds of people displaying marvellous creations.”

It is the third time Stacksteads Countryside Park Group, SCPG, has organised the procession, which is managed by the Horse and Bamboo Theatre.
Helen Jackson, an independent advisor to SCPG, secured the Arts Council funding.

She said: “It is good that Arts Council money has come into Rossendale for three years running. You can see how a relatively small amount of money can transform an area.”

Chair of SCPG Susan Hayhurst was delighted with the success of the event. She said: “All of the hard work has come to fruition and going round the recreation ground was a wonderful way of seeing all the lanterns together.”

An after-parade celebration was also held at The Boo in Waterfoot, where the lanterns could be displayed.

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