Image: © Graeme Batterbury
Lismore Lantern Parade
Lanterns, fire and outdoor celebration are deeply embedded in many cultures
from China, Japan, Burma, and Vietnam to Europe and Africa.
In 1994 the first Lismore Lantern Parade was seen by local artists and
performers as a way for the community to honour the cycles of the seasons
in an authentic, contemporary celebration. Also the lantern parade was
created in response to community concerns about antisocial behaviour
and economic decline in Lismore’s CBD, bringing people into the
often deserted city centre in a safe and celebratory environment - lighting
the heart of the city.
There were just a few hundred people at the first lantern parade in
1994. Slowly over the years the lanterns have become a community tradition,
appearing at many other community events around the region and beyond.
The Lantern Parade themes are drawn from community sentiment and stories,
creating a strong sense of place and ownership.
The Lantern Parade involves participants from throughout the Northern
Rivers and visitors to the region who have attended workshops in lantern,
mask & costume making, the finale show, carnival dance and the parade
The Lismore Lantern Parade has always focused on the positive and the
beautiful, whilst at the same time acknowledging the shadow and the
pain that is also a part of all our lives in some way.
Our theme this year is ‘A Space for Optimism.’ It came about
after talking to many people, including some late night and long car-journey
conversations about the state of the world and of course the bombardment
of media in our lives.
At this point in human history it can sometimes seem that there is not
a lot to be optimistic about. We are faced on a daily basis by news
of overwhelming environmental, social and economic problems and often
optimism can feel unrealistic or foolish.
This year we hope that by recognising the power of optimism, and its
shadow, and their roles in addressing the many challenges we face today,
we may be a creative force and can, in some way, renew the spirit when
all seems lost.
The lantern represents a positive metaphor for community optimism and
hope throughout the world, and it was from this tradition that the Lismore
Lantern Parade was born. This universal and multicultural theme makes
the Lantern Parade appealing to people from all walks of life and nationalities.
Jackson, Lismore Lantern Parade