The first ever Newington Lights Festival in Ramsgate took place on Friday October 20th. Despite the threat of Storm Babet hundreds of members from the local community came out to support this hyper local event.

The event was made possible through funding from Arts Council England and Ramsgate Town Council. It was led by local residents, through collaboration with Newington Big Local, Starlings Support CIC, aim4 Partnerships CIC and was co-produced by Future Foundry and Cohesion Plus.

Hundreds of children and young people from Ramsgate Arts Primary School, Newington Community Primary School and Newington’s Chill Club spent the week making their own lanterns and learning African songs, Djembe drumming and Bhangra percussion. Local residents participated through community workshops at the community centre and at Copperfield’s Residential Home

The focal point of the event was the lantern parade which started at Newington Community Centre and processed via Melbourne Avenue all the way to Ramsgate Arts Primary School. The parade stopped on route outside the Copperfield’s Residential Home to allow elderly residents to enjoy the spectacle.

The lantern procession was led by local resident, Catherine Curtis in her decorated hearse, followed by a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Paul Auston, Kent County Council Chair Cllr Gary Cooke and Ramsgate Town Mayor, Cllr Patricia Moore. They were joined by a range of culturally diverse artist, a New Orleans style band, Samba drumming group, stilt walkers, African djembe drummers, brass band and Indian Dhol drummers.

The finale for the light festival took place at Ramsgate Arts Primary School where there was a free firework display for everyone to enjoy.

Gurvinder Sandher MBE DL Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “We were delighted to work in partnership to deliver the first ever Newington Lights Festival. It was some 4 years in the making due to delays caused by Covid, but none of us gave up and the result was a great community celebration which brought together young and old in an area where events like this are very much the exception rather than the norm. To me this was a great example of the Arts Council England Let’s Create Strategy in action and great credit needs to be given to Starlings Support CIC for showing the leadership and having the determination to see it through when many would have given up. I can’t wait for next year!”