Fratton lantern parade returns to coincide with We Shine Portsmouth festival of light

THE bright lights of Fratton Road were joined by hundreds more as an annual lantern parade returned, coinciding with the We Shine Portsmouth festival of light.

By Richard Lemmer
Friday, 19th November 2021, 8:58 pm

Home-made lanterns – many bearing the Pompey logo, some in the shape of foxes or whales – were held aloft by residents as they set off from the Royal British Legion club towards St Mary’s Church in Fratton.

The church is hosting a light installation as part of the We Shine Portsmouth light festival, which has seen the lantern parade – organised by community group Fratton Big Local since 2014 - brought forward to coincide with the city-wide light show.

Led by the Batala Samba Band, Deputy Lord Mayor Rob Wood, and Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, this year’s parade turned heads along the busy road as it made its way to the now illuminated church grounds.

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Fratton Big Local's seventh community lantern parade Picture: Sam Stephenson

Reverend Canon Bob White of St Mary’s said he ‘very much hopes’ that the We Shine festival will return and coincide with the parade again next year.

He said: ‘We hope that it’s the birth of a new festival.

‘It just shows that when we work together – community groups, the city council, artists, everyone – we can put together a really amazing display – and then build on it year on year.

‘We have linked it up with the We Shine celebrations, but the message remains the same: celebrating local people and local artists.

The Batala Samba Band Picture: Sam Stephenson

‘It’s certainly remained popular.’

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Last year’s parade was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, and it was encouraging to see so many people return for the event this year, according to St Mary’s Church Choir member Claire Loveridge.

Claire, who has attended the parade for the last five years, said: ‘I thought there would be fewer people. We have had a really good turn out.’

The lantern parade Picture: Sam Stephenson

The Fratton resident and other attendees across the parade echoed Father Bob in calling for the We Shine festival to return again next year.

Councillor Rob Wood encouraged people to speak up with their request, saying: ‘If people like it, they should shout out about it – because if they shout loud enough, it may happen again.’

The free festival of light, staged by arts body Portsmouth Creates, has installations in Victoria Park and across the city centre until Saturday.

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Chris, Jen and Alice, 5, Stoneham Picture: Sam Stephenson

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Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan Picture: Sam Stephenson