Record parade turnout sparks beginning of Mayflower commemorative year

Gainsborough Illuminate 2019

The town centre was a sight to behold as record numbers lit up the streets of Gainsborough with their colourfully decorated handmade lanterns on Saturday.

More than 300 people joined the mesmerising Illuminate Parade, the first of six parades taking place across the country.

Starting at the United Reformed Church, community groups, young people and families paraded through the town with an impressive array of lanterns, before watching a spectacular light projection show onto the walls of Gainsborough Old Hall.

Beth Evans from 2nd Gainsborough Guides joined the parade. She said: “We made our lanterns with artist Julie Willoughby and this is our second years of doing this. It’s been a lovely event and there has been some stunning lanterns. We are already starting to plan for next year.”

Pam Craig brought both her two children, to the event, Eloise (3) and Reece (8) who created his candle lantern at Connexions in the town. She said: “It’s been absolutely amazing and it’s lovely to see a lot of people.”

Reece (8) said: “I have had lots of fun on the lantern parade.”

This year’s parade highlights the opening of the was particularly special as it marked the start of the commemorative 400th year since the Mayflower first set sail, an important historical moment for communities in the UK, US and the Netherlands.

Gainsborough is the first parade to take place across the country, opening the commemorative year of Mayflower 400. It was in our region that Separatists formed their ideas. The parade is inspired by the words of leading Separatist William Bradford: ‘As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.’

Thanks to a £100,000 grant from Arts Council England, the parade this year was biggest and best yet.

Anna Scott, Mayflower 400 Officer at West Lindsey District Council said: “We’re really pleased to have worked with schools and community groups in and around Gainsborough to prepare for the parade. This year we’ve made candle lanterns with professional artists, featuring the names of the 102 Mayflower passengers.”

An exciting programme of events has been planned for the next 12 months, which was launched during the parade. It will offer an engaging, educational and insightful range of activities throughout 2020 for local residents and visitors alike.

Events include:

  • Music: Seth Lakeman’s A Pilgrim’s Tale Tour, which will be at Trinity Arts Centre in Gainsborough.
  • Talks: Rachel Carter’s Spirit of the Mayflower. Adventures of a Pilgrim Woman, Gainsborough Old Hall
  • Exhibition: The Story of Mayflower II, Gainsborough Heritage Centre

Vice Chairman of West Lindsey District Council Angela Lawrence attended the event. She said: “The support we’ve received from Arts Council England has meant that we’ve had an impressive start to our Mayflower commemorations, which we’re pleased to be able to develop over the forthcoming year. I would like to congratulate everyone involved with the Illuminate Event, the lanterns were extraordinary, not only the professional ones but those made by the children at the workshops.  All of them brilliant and unique.

“The service was pertinent and the Rhubarb Theatre Company offered a very entertaining version of a potted history.  It was very well attended and I loved the lady on stilts lighting the way for us all, a wonderful idea. The parade itself was quite a spectacle along with the amazing light show on the Gainsborough Old Hall.”

Gainsborough’s Mayflower Cultural Programme is supported by Gainsborough Town Council and a range of other local partners. Discover the exciting Mayflower 400 programme of events by clicking here.