SHINING bright in the darkness, hundreds of lanterns brought a splash of colour to a Portsmouth churchyard.
Families paraded around the grounds of St Mary’s Church, Fratton, with animal-inspired lanterns in celebration of the Fratton Festival of Light.
Led by the Dolphin Marching Band, around 300 participants walked around a path showing some community spirit.
They then went inside and watched performances from Top Banana Circus and the Urban VocalGroup choir.
Short animated films were also shown in the vestry.
Community arts company Splodge Designs set up a series of workshops in schools and other community facilities so families could get creative and create their lanterns. The designs were based on an urban wildlife theme.
Maggie Moles, of Fratton, and her 18-month-old son Alexander came with a frog lantern. Maggie’s husband, Brian, the director of music at St Mary’s, also had a mole lantern.
Maggie said: ‘We wanted to celebrate Fratton and show what it stands for.
‘These kind of events bring people together, and everyone is happy and having a great time.
‘It shows Fratton isn’t as bad a place as everyone makes out. It’s a great community with a lot of community support.’
Sarah Tait found out about the occasion on Facebook – and spent two days making frog lanterns with her family.
Sarah, who went with her two daughters Leah, 22, Ellee, eight, and two sons Caleb, 12, and Kaiden, five, said: ‘We thought it was a great thing for the community and a chance for the kids to celebrate Christmas.
‘It’s really good for the community to come together and show its support.’
The event was organised by Fratton Big Local, which in 2013 was awarded £1m to spend over the next decade to make the area a better place to live, work and visit.
Anna Potten, Fratton Big Local community development worker, said: ‘It’s been very successful.
‘It looked very magical as we walked around the churchyard.
The festival comes ahead of The News family carol service at St Mary’s on Sunday.
The service, which starts at 3pm, will include traditional Christmas readings and performances from school choirs.