Lights, music and fireworks were the order of the day at the 8th Dartford Festival of Light took place on Friday October 21. Organised by Cohesion Plus in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council with the support of Dartford Borough Council and Arts Council England, the aim of the Festival was to bring the communities of Dartford together through the arts and promote key values of respect, excellence, friendship and equality.
In the build up to the Festival artistic partners Same Sky Arts delivered creative workshops in 12 local schools with some 650 young people benefiting.
The Festival this year is the most ambitious to date and was split into 3 distinct parts. Between 6pm and 6.30pm there was entertainment on One Bell Corner where Phase 5 Steel Band performed as did Crocodile Brass on the High Street while the young people lit up their lanterns. While outside the train station Bloco Fogo Samba welcomed train commuters back with their high energy Samba drumming performance.
12 local schools then take part in a lantern parade led led by the Mayor of Dartford John Burrell, Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus Gurvinder Sandher, Gareth Johnson MP and the Leader of Dartford Borough Council Jeremy Kite MBE. The parade started in the High Street and then went via Hythe Street, the Orchard Shopping Centre and Market Street to Central Park where it climaxed by the Band Stand. The parade also featured Crocodile Brass, Four by Four Dhol Drummers and Bloco Fogo Samba.
Once the Festival reached Central Park after a series of short performances and presentations to the schools, there evening climaxed with a spectacular fireworks and lights display to climax the celebrations delivered by the awards winning Phoenix Fireworks.
According to Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus “I am really proud of how working with Dartford Borough Council we have been able to evolve the Festival of Light over the years. This year was one of our biggest to date and is an excellent example of how the arts can be used to bring communities together. Everyone who took part should be proud of what we all achieved in Dartford this year on a limited budget and next year working with our partners funding permitting I have ideas to develop the festival further.”