YOUNGSTERS are being invited to attend free drop-in workshops during half-term where they will be able to make special lanterns to carry in this year’s Christmas Lantern parade in Tamworth.
The parade of children walking through the Castle Grounds carrying glow stick lanterns is a key part of the town’s annual Christmas Lights Festivaland will make its way to St Editha’s Square in time for the switching on of the lights on Sunday, November 25.
All children across the town are invited to take part in the parade and help launch the festive season in style.
A series of lantern-making workshops will take place in Ankerside Shopping Centre during half-term, on Thursday, November 1, and Friday November 2, with sessions at 10am-12pm and 1pm-3pm both days. Sessions will be held in unit 56 near Pandora.
Workshops will be led by popular Tamworth artist, Maggie Carney, who will be on hand to help children build and paint a card lantern to carry in the parade. If they wish, children can return later in the day or the next day (if they first attend on the Thursday) with Christmas sparkles and stickers to customise their lantern.
Youngsters are then invited to collect their lanterns, which will be fitted with glow sticks and mounted on six-foot canes, from the Castle Grounds Bandstand at the start of the parade on November 25. Timings and parade route will be confirmed with those taking part nearer the time.
Maggie was the leading artist on this summer’s hugely successful Mercian Mosaic project, and recently won the Tamworth Business and Community Awards ‘Citizen of the Year’ accolade for the project, with her group of volunteers ‘Team Aethelflaed’ receiving recognition in the Community Group of the Year category.
Maggie is looking forward to getting back into the workshop with Tamworth people, albeit on a much smaller project this time.
“This is a lot easier, but it’s nice to be getting back to it,” Maggie said. “Children of all ages are welcome to pop along on either or both of those days to create a lantern for the parade.”
Pupils from St Leonard’s Primary School in Wigginton and a group at St Francis Church in Leyfields have already got the ball rolling with around 40 completed lanterns.
The annual Christmas Lights Festival starts at 1pm and promises another jam-packed afternoon of festive fun for the whole family. Activities include fairground rides, live music and dance performances, Christmas market, walk about characters, a nativity under the Town Hall and face painting.
Entertainment will centre around the Touch FM stage in St Editha’s Square with a variety of live performances from 2pm.
The festival, sponsored by Ankerside Shopping Centre, will also have a special guest in the form of Peter Rabbit™, who will be making appearances at intervals throughout the day and during the main event at 5pm when the lights are switched on. And of course Father Christmas himself will also be joining in the fun and excitement.
Also returning is the annual Christmas Tree Festival in St Editha’s Church, which invites schools, businesses, local groups and individuals to decorate a tree to be displayed in the church. More information on that is available here: www.tamworth.gov.uk/Christmas-tree-festival
There will also be a selection of stalls along the main high street, offering festive food, crafts and gifts. If you are interested in having a stall at the event, please contact TARoutdoorevents@tamworth.gov.ukfor more information.
The annual free festival is one of the highlights of Tamworth’s impressive calendar of outdoor events and is organised by Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team in partnership with Tamworth Christmas Lights Committee. It usually draws thousands of visitors from across the area.
Cllr John Chesworth, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Operational Services & Culture, said: “We all look forward to the annual Christmas Lights Festival as it marks the start of the main countdown to Christmas.
“This is an incredibly popular event in our calendar of free entertainment for residents and visitors and it’s a lovely festive day out. We are again inviting youngsters to really be a part of that with their families by joining the Christmas Lantern parade which will make its way from the Castle Grounds to St Editha’s Square in time for the switch-on.
“I’d encourage anyone interested to take part in the drop-in workshops being hosted in Ankerside Shopping Centre to not only secure a place in the parade, but also to take advantage of a free half-term creative activity.”
More information is available from Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team by emailing TARartsdevelopment@tamworth.gov.uk, or calling 01827 709314.