Lochgilphead in Argyll has an annual lantern parade at bonfire night and we made the journey to see this extravaganza of arts, crafts, pipes and drums, all of which was finished off with a bonfire and firework display put on by the local Round Table.
The lanterns are made of wire and paper and illuminated by tea-light candles. Making these is a very popular seasonal pastime for the local kids and this year’s theme was all creatures great and small.
We managed to find a place to stand at the bottom of Argyll Street and were treated first of all to the Mid Argyll Pipe Band playing a selection of pieces and marching up and down the street to entertain the crowds. Some confusion at one point when a car managed to evade the road closures and drove down the road to find its way blocked by twenty pipers and drummers. After the ritual embarrassing pause, way was made for the car to escape from the vulgar gaze of the crowd and resume its journey.
After the pipes had marched off onto the front green, the lanterns started to make their way down from the top of the road. Because we hadn’t seen them before, we didn’t really know what to expect, but as we watched, the whole street filled from side to side and its whole length with hundreds of paper lanterns glowing and dancing in the autumn night. The parade was led by a samba band who, if anything, were even louder than the pipe band. This was a real family affair, with probably as many people in the parade as were watching.
After the lantern parade, everyone gathered on the front green overlooking Loch Gilp to watch the bonfire and fireworks. These were set from the “island”, actually a spit of land the other side of the river that flows down into the loch. The bonfire was a massive affair about twenty feet high; fronted with huge logs but fuelled by the traditional pallets at the back. Sparks and flames shot up from this into the clear, star-lit night (a rare treat to have a dry evening for the event!). The firework display that followed lasted a good 25 minutes and was one of the best I’ve seen for many years. Because the night was clear and dry, with very little breeze at all, the display was perfect with huge bursts of flares, streaming fire and cascades of light almost above our heads. Definitely one for the diary next year.