Burning the Clocks: A unique celebration
On the shortest day of every year, Burning the Clocks, a unique community ritual takes place in Brighton. The event sees local residents parade paper and willow lanterns that they’ve made through the city, before they pass them into a huge bonfire on the beach.
Each maker invests their hopes and fears into a lantern before giving them up the fire. Then the coming year is ushered in with a dazzling fire show during which a massive fire sculpture is ignited, live music plays, and fireworks light up the sky.
Burning the Clocks was created in 1994 by local community art charity, Same Sky, as an antidote to the excesses of the commercial Christmas and as a way for the people ofBrighton to celebrate the festive season, regardless of faith or creed. Over 1,000 people now take part in the parade and over 20,000 spectators turn out to watch.
This year’s Burning the Clocks will be a particularly special year as it will celebrate Same Sky’s 25th year of existence. The charity was set up in 1987 on the Moulsecoomb estate and, ever since, has been creating imaginative events and workshops to strengthen communities, inspire individuals and brighten people’s lives inBrighton and across the south east.
Anna Tuggey, local Brighton resident, says she looks forward to attending the event every year with her family and that it is one of their favourite things about Brighton. She describes Burning the Clocks as: “Amazing, beautiful and fun and really important.”
Each year, as part of the celebration, Same Sky provides free lantern-making workshops to small community groups for disadvantaged or vulnerable people, including both a local father’s support group and a community-run organisation providing advice to homeless or insecurely-housed young people.
Same Sky’s artistic director, John Varah, describes the process: “Our aim is to guide people to create their best work. Then, by bringing these items together for Burning the Clocks, we’ve helped people to create something a bit magical, shifting their perception of what they might be capable of, and leaving them feeling really proud of their city and community.”
Burning the Clocks takes place on 21st December. The event is free and the route is suitable for all ages and abilities. More information can be found at www.samesky.co.uk