Always happy to promote special events in the Square Mile, the City Information Centre has been handing out flyers for the Aldgate Lantern Parade and Winter Fete for the last three years. The previous one took place on Friday December 6, 2019 - what a lovely coincident that this was also Sankt Nikolaus Day which is widely celebrated in Austria and Germany. While Christmas at Kew, Enchanted Eltham and Winterfest at Wembley Park attract huge crowds and are magic in their own right, you can’t really get involved yourself.
In contrast, the Aldgate Lantern Parade is a light festival with a homemade touch. The driving force behind this event is the City of London Corporation. In 2019 more than 500 participants of all ages proudly carried their lanterns through the heart of London. The parade kicked off at Sir John Cass's Foundation Primary School at around 4.45pm before winding its way through Aldgate where it developed into a winter festival fete at Aldgate Square with music, song, dance, food and various stalls.
In order to make not only the younger participants shine there were free lantern making workshops offered in the run-up to the event in Kahaila Aldgate and at Artizan Street Library. Five local schools participated as well creating lanterns with the children. For safety reasons, they were lit with electric candles, showing a spectacular display of colour, shape and light. The crowd marched along to the beat of Barbican’s Drum Works, a project which goes back to 2007 and has developed its own fresh, original sound that is completely distinctive to the local east London community.
The focus was on sustainability - and even more on the fact that this is a large-scale community project which unites businesses, residents and community members to reclaim their streets for a short time while bringing colour, energy and excitement to the area. Lighting up the winter night, it is a much-loved and anticipated event. In other words, it’s celebrating life in Aldgate.
The Aldgate in Winter Festival moved online this year, but some impressive lanterns were still made, such as the one pictured below.