After two years of COVID cancellations, Brighton charity Same Sky relaunched the much-loved Burning the Clocks community event, just before Christmas. Around 25,000 people joined the event, lining the streets of central Brighton to watch a procession of lanterns parade and ceremonially burn on the seafront, before a firework show.
Burning the Clocks first began in 1993. The event is an uplifting antidote to the excesses of a commercial Christmas. People bring the paper and willow lanterns that they’ve made to parade through the city before passing them into a huge bonfire on Brighton beach. Each lantern maker becomes a part of the show as they invest the lanterns with their wishes, hopes, and fears and then pass them into the fire.
This year’s theme for Burning the Clocks was Wild, focusing on the untamed aspects of nature, winter, and the ever-changing elements of our world. Local artist Jo Coles created an effigy inspired by the Wildermen of Europe which was paraded through the city before being ceremonially burned in a bonfire on the beach. Jo took inspiration for the showpiece from the savage and raw elements of winter and believes that the clocks joining the bonfire is how we make room for spring on the darkest day of the year.
Same Sky Executive Producer Robert Batson said: “It has been heartbreaking to cancel the event for the past two years, so bringing it back and in such a big way, was thrilling. Between the hundreds of lanterns, the builds our artists created, and the fireworks show, the people of Brighton and Hove were able to find a wondrous relief from the usual Winter malaise. There’s no better way to celebrate the Winter Solstice”.
Burning the Clocks has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the event which is essential for keeping it alive in the years to come. The event costs over £45,000 to produce each year and relies on support from the public to cover its growing costs.
The event was newly sponsored by Hanningtons Lane, and partially supported by Arts Council England and the Chalk Cliff Trust, whose contributions have aided the skyrocketing costs of materials, labour, and transport. The Ledward LGBTQ+ Community Centre and Brighton Hove City Council have also made in-kind contributions to support the event. Donors to the crowdfunding campaign were rewarded with different prizes based on the size of their donation, including personalised lanterns for the parade, limited-edition prints and a chance to lead the procession.
Same Sky is a community-led arts organisation and producers of Burning the Clocks, the Brighton Festival Children’s Parade and many other events in Brighton and Hove. Same Sky was set up in 1987 and creates imaginative events and workshops to strengthen communities, inspire individuals and brighten people’s lives.
Their work engages directly with the community to produce a wide range of events, combining the visual and performing arts. They act as a resource for schools and other community groups supplying information and specialist advice and a programme of master-classes, training courses and residencies. They have a proven track record in producing site-specific events and installations, permanent and temporary public art.
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