So we have good news and bad news. First the good news!
1200 local people walked in the Parade in January, joined by 4 bands and watched by an estimated 1500 spectators.
That’s a HUGE number of people to fill the streets of Bedminster, and makes it our biggest Parade so far. Hooray!
And now for the bad news…
The future of South Bristol’s most popular community event is under threat due to funding cuts.
Each year, a committed group of volunteers raise the £19,000 budget required to place artists into 10 local schools to work with the children to make the giant lanterns (the schools contribute around half of the cost), as well as: road signage & barriers, transport, publicity, insurance, Health & Safety, our fireworks finale and general admin.
Until now, the City Council has contributed around £1000, and the local neighbourhood partnerships between them £3500 of the money they receive from the Council for local projects. We've also had support from the Bedminster Business Improvement District and a small number of private sponsors - which we hope will carry on.
And until now, we’ve plugged the gap has been raised by community fundraising initiatives -including the sale of lantern kits and the bucket collection on the night of the Parade itself.
But this year, funding streams are under threat. School budgets will also be squeezed harder than ever. So we are looking at a bigger shortfall and a bigger challenge than ever for the committee.
If there’s going to be another Lantern Parade, we need to raise about £6000 before the end of July, so that a decision can be taken to engage artists to work in the schools this autumn.
So we’re reaching out to you all - individuals, groups and local businesses - to get involved and help us raise funds to continue this very special local event. Every effort will count: from tea parties to jumble sales, school disco’s to market stalls.
“We’ll consider anything as long as it’s legal!” Malcolm Brammar, Chairman of Bedminster Winter Lanterns
Come brainstorm with us!
Grab that brain of yours and bring your super sweet fundraising ideas along to St Francis Church, the Parade’s traditional starting point, on Monday 20 March starting at 7.30pm. We'll also be looking for volunteers to sign up and/or help out with any brilliant ideas that we come up with.
Wow, what a day! Saturday 21st started bright and clear – such a contrast from the Parade’s original date – and early for the #bemmylanterns team. Yours truly had the easy job of a quick interview with BBC Radio Bristol, whilst the rest of the team were getting preparations under way. It was so peaceful and still at St Francis Church that morning...
...but not for long!
The giant lanterns were picked up from secret locations across Bedminster to be brought to St Francis Church for final construction by the artists, whilst other members of the crew worked on the other vital jobs including the final muster layout; deployment of the volunteer stewards, marshals and collectors; reviewing and checking off all safety points; and putting the finishing touches to the other entertainments.
By the time I got to St Francis Church in the early afternoon, the whole place was buzzing! Big tarps on the front lawn were gradually filling with the schools’ and community groups’ beautiful creations, the hall was filling with the musicians, and the team and volunteers in high viz were buzzing around purposefully like dedicated raver bees.
St Francis Road – the main site for the parade mustering – gradually began to fill the Parade groups, the usual splendid schools and community groups:
• Southville Centre Monday Club and Nursery • Parson Street Primary • Ashton Vale Primary • Southville Primary • Luckwell Primary • Ashton Gate Primary • Holy Cross Primary • St Mary Redcliffe Primary • Compass Point Primary • Victoria Park Primary •
And for the first time we welcomed Ashton Park School with their fantastic Pokémon lanterns, the 255th Scouts and the fantastic Bemmy Mix group, made up from individual enthusiastic lantern makers.
And last (but not least) the incredible Girl, the Moth & the Light, the animated lanterns produced as part of a South West wide project led by the Bedminster Winter Lanterns group, and funded by the Arts Council
By the time everybody had made their way to the starting line, the area was completely filled with kids, adults and lanterns.
Meanwhile over at Lanterns HQ (aka the gazebo on the front lawn), the collectors were stretching and lunging to avoid any strained or pulled muscles from carrying all those donations in buckets along the route.
The artists were starting to move the lanterns down to the muster point, and the musicians were gathering in the Church. I was glaring at the sky and wishing it would hurry up and get a bit darker and/or more cloudy. A dreadful thing to wish for, given the awful weather we experienced last time, we needed it to be a bit less bright and lovely to get the full impact of the Lanterns.
Fortunately, by the time the start of the Parade rolled around, it was starting to get a bit gloomy, so we were ready to go!
As ever, the start of the Parade was heralded by the sweet, sweet rhythms of Bristol Samba - Bloco Carnavalesco. A little known fact about the #bemmylanterns team, but when we hear the samba kick in, all the planning, effort and worry melt away. We get a little buzz and the a general feeling of “Yep, THIS is what it’s all about. TOTALLY worth it!”
And then, finally, the event was ready to go. Malcolm, the Chair of the #bemmylanterns committee, expertly coordinated the Parade set up and we were off!
We were very lucky to have some reporters from the Bristol Post at the Parade, broadcasting live. So if you didn’t get to see the event in person, here’s a little bit of the Parade, just for you.
And here’s a link to another Bristol Post story and video.
Some of the BEDMINSTER crew were there too, and took some lovely vids, including this one
To see more awesome photos of the event, go check out the 2016 gallery.
So, as you can see, we got there! The 2016 Bedminster Winter Lantern Parade finally lit up the streets of Bedminster!
We wound up, as ever, on South Street, where the kind people of Compass Point Primary opened their gates so their playground could be a final viewing spot for the Lanterns, a place to get a delicious coffee from Hopper Coffee and, of course, the perfect spot to watch firework finale by Skyburst! (thanks to the BEDMINSTER crew again for the video).
So there you have it. Another splendid Lantern Parade done and dusted. We have a whole bunch of thanks to splash about, as well as the vital picking of the winner for the bottle of prosecco raffle prize.
More on those anon, but in the meantime
Thank you everbody who was involved and hope to see you next time?
Love from the #bemmylanterns team. xoxo