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Burning the Clocks, Brighton

Burning the Clocks, Brighton
Photo credit: Simon Dack

Brighton’s Burning the Clocks is back. And what a great way to celebrate the winter solstice on the 21 December. It’s organised by Same Sky, a community arts organisation and this year is going to be even bigger and better than ever before.

What is Burning the Clocks? 

It’s one of Sussex’s unique winter illumination events and celebrates the shortest day of the year by providing an antidote to the excesses of Christmas. Thousands of Brighton and Hove residents come together with handmade lanterns and take part in a parade and procession through the streets. Many people dress up and the procession culminates on the seafront near the ZipWire where there is a bonfire and fireworks. The Parade begins on New Road and 28,000 people are expected to line the streets.

There is a different theme every year and unique new puppets and lanterns are developed according to the theme. This year, it’s Clocks, which was inspired by our changing perception of time’s passage after the event’s successful return last winter. The Same Sky artists will present a range of pieces that will come together and be assembled on the beach to reveal a remarkable antique timepiece.

Burning the Clocks, Brighton
Photo credit: Mundial Photo

Following the success of Burning the Clocks 2022, Same Sky have invited more community groups and expanded the parade by 40% this year. New community groups involved in the lantern parade for the first time include Sikhs of Sussex, Tarner Community Project, Manor Road Gym in East Brighton, Unified Rhythm, Rap ‘n’ Rhyme, Ledward Centre, Afrori, BARCO and Hummingbird and Making our Mark from Whitehawk. They will be joined by regular parade participants from Woodcraft Folk and local Guides and Scouts groups.

Burning the Clocks, Brighton
Photo credit: Ray Gibson

Artistic Director John Varah said: “Burning the Clocks is having its great reset, passing the time with ticking distractions, delightful nonsense, and a thousand illuminations; to render a few dark, silent hours even stiller.”

One new artwork on show for the first time is a Windrush replica displaying a critical evaluation of the UK’s immigration policies and failings – it was created in partnership with Same Sky, Afrori Bookstore and Brighton Anti Racist Community Organisation (BARCO). The artwork was created to coincide with this years’ 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush – the ship that brought one of the first large groups of post-war West Indian immigrants to Britain.

Onlookers watching the parade are encouraged to contribute funds into donation buckets and card readers along the route to help fund the event. There is also a crowdfunding campaign that offers different prizes including personalised lanterns for the parade, limited-edition prints and a chance to lead the procession. People can also receive VIP passes to watch the bonfire and fireworks part of the event from a prime location on the beach. There are also limited edition original prints from regular artist Graham Carter, who has created a brilliant poster for 2023.

Burning the Clocks is supported by Arts Council England and the Chalk Cliff Trust, whose contributions have aided the rising costs of materials, labour, and transport. Moshimo Restaurant, Hand Brew Co. and Sea Lanes have also made in-kind contributions to support the event.

Burning the Clocks, Brighton
Photo credit: Simon Dack

From 5 November, people can purchase lantern kits to take part in the parade from multiple stores across the city including the Booklovers store in Jubilee Library, Infinity Foods Coop, HISBE supermarket in York Place, Stanley Road Store in Hanningtons Lane, and the Book Nook in Hove. Lantern kits cost £40 (including VAT) and contain materials to make two lanterns, instructions for construction, and four wristbands that allow you to join the parade.

Same Sky is also looking for volunteers to join the parade and support the bucket donations team and also to support the lantern passing on the beachfront. If you have a few hours to spare on the evening of the 21 December please register your interest here.

You can support Burning the Clocks by volunteering or supporting their crowdfunding campaign here.

If you have enjoyed this post about Brighton’s Burning the Clocks, you may also like:

Sussex Christmas Experiences 2023

16 Things To Do In Brighton


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