Towards the end of November, the Ambleside Community comes together for one of its annual events. The official title is the Ambleside Christmas Lights (switch-on), but the celebration is much more than the name reveals. There is an all-day Craft Fair; two Santa Cruises on Lake Windermere; a market including live music and hot food; a Willow Lantern Parade, and a spectacular fireworks display in Rothay Park.
This year Ambleside came alive and buzzed with more excitement than we’d experienced in previous years. Approximately thirty minutes before the 4.30 pm Lantern procession got underway, hordes of people materialised and began to line the village streets. It was an astonishing sight; I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many people at an Ambleside event. After chatting with a few bystanders, it appeared there was a combination of Cumbrian residents, day visitors and weekly holidaymakers.
The words Father Christmas and lanterns were on everyone’s lips. The young children bobbed and jiggled with excitement as the tiny toddlers were hoisted onto their Father’s shoulders to claim the best view. The tension began to build, and the chattering started to rise, especially when the Parade was a little late starting!
Eventually, the faint sound of the Marching Band came echoing up Compston Road, finally rounding the bend past the Climbers Shop and into Market Place road. A roar of pleasure rose into the air as a proud Santa standing on his sleigh, his beautiful dancing Angels, and the band dressed in red Xmas outfits came into view.
Santa smiled and waved voraciously to the multitudes of children waving in return. All too soon, he and the music had passed by, but the willow lantern carriers soon grabbed everyone’s attention. The lanterns glowed magically and danced with light and colour in an extravaganza of stars, spheres, flowers, pyramids, moons and hearts. The numerous lantern-makers surpassed themselves this year; it was a stunning display of artistry and skill.
Sadly, the glow became dim as the splendour disappeared around the corner onto Lake road, and the Market Place gradually became quiet again.
But the crowds were still buoyant as we dashed down Compston Road and past the Cinema towards Rothay Park, where the glorious fireworks display was soon underway!
Footnote; Special thanks go out to Richard Attenborough, plus the organisers and volunteers of this event. It was an extra-special atmosphere of community and celebration.
Header Image: Fireworks from Loughrigg