Over the last 7 years, the Cross Flatts Lantern Festival has become a fixture in the community’s Christmas celebrations.
Each year the park has been lit up with hundreds of lanterns and thousands of fairy lights on a cold December evening; stable animals have delighted children and adults alike; school choirs have sung; the story of Christmas has been told and up to 500 hundred people have huddled together to join the Salvation Army Band leading carols.
Christmas 2020 is going to be very different for all of us with difficult decisions to be made about how to negotiate and follow the guidelines and restrictions over the Christmas period.
The idea of gathering hundreds of people into one place to sing carols seems like a distant memory of a world long ago.
And so, if we can’t all come together for the Lantern Festival, to sing and to celebrate, then quite simply the Lantern Festival will have to come to us – to our streets and to our homes.
So on Saturday (12 December 2020) a socially-distanced Salvation Army band will be on the top deck of an open top bus and will be travelling the streets of Beeston playing carols for us as we stand on our doorstep and in front yards and gardens.
Starting at 4pm, the bus will weave its way slowly through the streets of Cross Flatts, meander around Beeston Hill and Hunslet Moor before completing its journey in the streets of Holbeck.
One of the organisers of the Festival, Mark Hodgkinson, commented:
“The Lantern Festival has lit up Christmas for many people in our community over the last few years. At a time filled with so much sadness and darkness, we want to bring some light into the darkness, to fill our streets and homes with music and to carry the hope and joy of Christmas around the community.”
Along with the Salvation Army Band, the bus will also be carrying the final image of a community art project. Over the last few weeks, the organisers of the event have asked people from across the community to contribute an image which represents in some way ‘hope’ for them.
All the images will be combined into a large collage image, similar to that pictured, and everyone who has contributed will be given a poster copy of the print (see social media pages below for more details and to make last minute contributions). A printed banner of the image will also be displayed on the side of the bus.
The whole event will also be streamed online, offering the opportunity to get involved and to follow the bus’s journey through the community – to let people know when it’s near so that they can come out and wave and maybe even sing along as it comes past their home.
There’ll be gifts to give away along the way, sweet treats for those who join in, a few short stops to retell the Christmas story and a few other little surprises.