Illuminate Festival lights up Gainsborough with community spirit

Bright colours and fire displays at All Saints’ Parish Church, Gainsborough

Gainsborough was aglow with a magnificent display of light and sound as the extraordinary Illuminate festival drew in thousands of visitors on Saturday.

This year’s festival, themed ‘Love Gainsborough’, highlighted the town’s vibrancy and community spirit, attracting more than 2,500 visitors.

Hosted by West Lindsey District Council and supported by Gainsborough Town Council, audiences were captivated by performers including the Beautiful Queen of Hearts, who graced us with a special appearance along with the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit.

The day’s highlights included the mesmerising Illuminate lantern parade, led by an animated and rhythmical samba band called Fire Funk, led by Chris Lewis-Jones, which made its way through the busy Market Place, before gathering outside the Gainsborough Old Hall. The band was followed by children of all ages who proudly held up their wonderful lantern creations, adorned with hearts and lights for the crowds to see.

Artists Ruth Pigott, Nadya Monfrioli and Lou Jones led lantern sessions in schools prior to the event and there was also lantern-making on the day at All Saints’ Parish Church and Market Place.

Sarah Preston took her children to the lantern making workshops held in the town throughout the day. 

She said: “The kids have enjoyed it. They were so excited for it, and it is great that it’s free. Its good they were able to display their art in the parade as well.”

This was echoed by another parent Charlotte Salmon who added: 

“It’s just so lovely that children can get involved. Anything that children can do in Gainsborough is great and just to get involved in the story.”

The McColl family, Kirsten and Neil from Lea have been to every one of the Illuminate events so far. They brought their son George to the event. 

George said: 

“There are lots of people here today (Saturday) – more than we expected this time. It is very good.” His dad added: “The fire garden was really good, and for me was the best part of the day.”

Chair of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr Stephen Bunney, expressed pride in the community’s participation and thanked everyone involved in making the event a success. 

He said: 

“What an amazing day and evening. I am proud to be part of an event as loved as the Illuminate Festival. It was such genuine fun to see the children’s creations, and the work of the local artists on display. It was great to see the community come together and enjoy themselves and the feeling of pride in the town.”

Stilt walker Toni Pingaliing and face-painter Grace Bowden added to the festive atmosphere, entertaining crowds with their engaging performances. Toni said it was great to be part of the occasion. She added: 

“The day was really fun, and the kids were amazing.”

Grace added: 

“It has been lovely to meet all the children and paint so many faces. The day has been busy and the parade as amazing.”

As evening fell, the excitement continued after the parade with the breathtaking fire garden display, organised by JRH Services’ Fyr Garden accompanied by live music and thrilling performances by fire artists. Musicians created the perfect soundscape to this most atmospheric part of the evening, while fire performers wowed visitors with their amazing skills.

Blake and Piper Coghill, were visiting with their young daughter. Blake said: 

“We have had a good wander around – it’s been really good. We will definitely come back next year and bring lanterns and lights with us.”

Nick and Noelyn Brown, from Ingham enjoyed the fire garden. Nick said: 

“It’s a really great event to come to. It is easy to park, we came last time, really enjoyed it, so we have come here again because we like to support local events like this.”

The couple were accompanied by their friend Laura, a visiting teacher from Spain who is currently working at Queen Elizabeth's High School teaching pupils Spanish. Laura added: “It’s been really enjoyable being here, I like it a lot.” 

Dr Anna Scott, West Lindsey District Council’s event lead, emphasised the importance of community-driven initiatives like Illuminate in fostering local pride and togetherness.

She said: 

“What a fantastic atmosphere we had! It was really special to see so many families making memories in the heart of Gainsborough, joining in and getting into the ‘Love, Gainsborough’ spirit.”

Dr Scott thanked All Saints’ Parish Church and Gainsborough Old Hall for supporting the event and opening their doors to visitors for free.

Our monthly farmers’ and craft market took place during the day followed by an Illuminate Market in the evening, which offered lots of delicious food options.

Hannah at Sugar Lips Cupcakes said: 

“It’s great as one of the regular traders to be here go a great event like the Illuminate festival.”

Kim Farrier from the Garden Tea Room is hoping to be back trading at future events. She said: 

“It was great being here for an event as special as Illuminate. Gainsborough and the people are very lovely, and I hope to be back next year.”

Illuminate Festival continues to shine as a beacon of community spirit, thanks to the support of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, West Lindsey District Council, and Gainsborough Town Council.

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who joined us for Illuminate Festival. Like all our events, they rely on grant funding to make them possible. Your feedback is important to us so please take a few moments to complete a survey Illuminate feedback form  

For the latest news on West Lindsey District Council visit our council news pages

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