Lighting up night sky to mark the end of war in Iraq

Sharrow Lantern Parade
Sharrow Lantern Parade
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Streets in a Sheffield suburb are set to light up again as a community festival celebrates a landmark anniversary.

Celebrating peace was the reason behind the first Sharrow Lantern Festival 10 year ago.

It had been a year since the end of the Iraq war when a group of friends walked together in Sharrow, flying colourful home-made lanterns, for the first time in 2004.

Now the event has spiralled to attract 3,000 people who dance in the streets to the sound of the Sheffield Samba Band, while showing off hundreds of weird and wonderful lanterns.

Festival director Luisa Golob, managing director of Creative Action Network, said: “Some people go crazy with their designs.

“One year when the theme was magic we had a massive rabbit in a hat. There was a unicorn last year, and we even had a set of Babuska dolls one time.

“The festival started with a group of friends who wanted to bring peaceful movements to the streets and celebrate the end of the Iraq war.

“It was quite small at first and when the original organisers moved on from Sheffield they put out an open call for people to get involved.

“Since then it has just expanded really. We get about 3,000 people a year coming along these days.

“I think it is so popular because it is a creative opportunity that isn’t there otherwise.

“People can come and create something then show it off at a festival - lots of families and friends make a big one together.

“I don’t think there is anything else like it in Sheffield and it gives people the chance to have a dance in the streets.”

The festival is one of leading free community events on the city’s calendar.

And it still has an important message, that of community, in the diverse area of Sharrow. Luisa, who lived in Sharrow, but has just moved to Woodseats, said: “I definitely know people who have moved to Sharrow because of the lantern festival and we’ve had people coming since they were very young, every year, for the workshops. There just seems to be an overpowering sense of community at the workshops.

“I think my experience with it helped me to get my job too. Sharrow is a very diverse area. The festival probably works well there because of that and there is always quite a lot of creative people which pulls it all together.”

This year, the festival is due to take place on Sunday April 13, starting at Mount Pleasant Park from 7.30pm, following six months of preparation by volunteers.

It ends at Sheffield General Cemetery, where there will then be an hour of music and entertainment.

The theme is space and people are invited to craft their out-of-this-world lanterns at weekly Saturday workshops, which run at The Old Junior School, Sharrow, between 1-5pm.

Stewards are also needed to help run the festival. To get involved email Luisa Golob on creativeactionnetwork@googlemail.com