Rainbow Dreaming  

Lismore Lantern Parade

Lantern Parade, Lismore
Image: © Graeme Batterbury

The 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 bands.

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.

Jyllie Jackson, Lismore Lantern Parade

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