Illuminate festival of thanksgiving and light (UK, November 2018)

Illuminate festival celebrates the anniversary of the Mayflower's voyage to the New World through a series of events and activities across the UK.

What

The growing international cultural festival of light is a four nation commemoration which unites the UK, USA, the Netherlands and Native Americans. In fact, 35 million people today are descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims who made the momentous voyage from England to the New World in 1620. The festival is taking place this year from November 20-29, 2018.

(c) Dom Moore

In November 2019, Illuminate will open a year-long anniversary programme of events for the official 400-year commemoration of the sailing of the Mayflower, culminating in Illuminate 2020.

Where

As part of the national Mayflower 400 partnership, Illuminate events will be happening across the country during the third week of November. Festivals will take place in Doncaster, Gainsborough, Plymouth, Nottinghamshire, London, Essex, Lincolnshire and Dartmouth.

When

20-29 November 2018, coinciding with Thanksgiving in America.

How much

All festivals are free to attend. 

What’s on

Each Illuminate Festival includes a range of events and activities including innovative light based artworks, local choir performers and parades, which reflect themes of freedom and liberty and this year, will see Mayflower destinations in England, once again staging Illuminate events. These include:

Plymouth (Thursday 22 – Sunday 25 November) – Taking place in Plymouth’s historic Royal William Yard, the festival will offer an immersive experience, with projections and light installations set out across the Yard, live performances and interactive opportunities. This year, international artists Xavi Bové and Thomas Voillaume will bring creative pieces to the festival; Bové’s piece, ‘Visual Songs’, creates a link between songs and their visual representation. Performed live, visitors can conduct virtual brushes to create their own personalised artwork, which they can print and take home with them afterwards.

Rotherhithe, London (Thursday 22nd – Monday 26th November): On Saturday 24th there will be a family Barn Dance with The Ceilidh Tree and a staging of the 1630’s Venetian comic opera ‘The Hospital’ by young local home-grown company Musica Antica Rotherhithe. On Sunday 25th screenings of ‘The Pilgrims’; and Ai Wei Wei’s ‘Human Flow’ at Sands film cinema, and ‘Artisact Artists’ takes place at Canada Water Library on Monday 26th. 

Harwich, Essex (Friday 23 November): The streets of Harwich will be lit up once again on as Illuminate 2018 festival takes place, aimed at promoting the town’s strong links with the Mayflower ship. An illuminated civic procession will lead the way from Ha’Penny Pier down to Harwich Green made of up dignitaries and representatives from local organisations, and the public are invited to join the end of the procession to. On the Green, the community choir Harwich Sing will also perform four songs on a theme of light, with a backdrop of the Low and High Lighthouses and the Treadwheel Crane all being illuminated.

(c) Dom Moore

Boston, Lincolnshire (Thursday 29 November): The market town of Boston will come to life with a Pilgrim themed illuminate parade, lit lanterns will fill the streets of the town and come together in the sweeping market place. The Christmas market and lights switch on will also be taking place.

Dartmouth (Thursday 29 November): Mayflower 400 Candlelit is a community weekend for all that will offer artisan stalls and mulled wine. It will also mark the Dartmouth Mayflower Opening Ceremony “The Night of 400 Candles” illuminating the Royal Avenue Gardens Bandstand where a Lantern Parade, led by the Town Crier will finish. The Mayflower Choir will sing the Dartmouth Anthem and the Bells will ring out The Dartmouth Peal; the gardens will be festively decked with many of 4,000 pennants that are being made for the 2020 Mayflower commemoration.