Arts Derbyshire


Annual Festival Shines A Light On Diversity, Independence and Unity

The Derby Season of Light (DSOL) family festival will return this Autumn with a packed programme of activities and performances to celebrate the city and county’s diversity and creativity.

The programme between September and December will coincide with the festivals of Diwali, Bonfire Night, Hanukkah, Christmas and the preparations for Chinese New Year which all share the common theme of light. This year, the festival will also mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.

DSOL is spearheaded by Surtal Arts, the long-established Derby organisation rooted in traditional South Asian arts. They who are working with a wide range of partners including Derby City Council, Derby LIVE, Derby Museums, University of Derby, Déda, Derby Theatre, Air Arts, Fleet Arts, Number Twenty Eight and Belper Town Council, with funding from Arts Council England thanks to National Lottery players.

The festival will launch with a unique concert ‘Strings of Time’ on Saturday, September 10th at Déda in Chapel Street.

It will feature a renowned Indian classical musician, the sitar maestro Ustad Dharambir Singh MBE, and his disciple Roopa Panesar who will perform together on stage for the first time in Derby alongside Tanpura player Gunwant Kaur and one of the UK’s finest percussionists, Ustad Shahbaz Hussain on tabla.

The programme will include a melodious exchange of musical ragas in the Hindustani tradition of North India.

Surtal Arts’ chair Nisha Nath, who is a celebrated South Asian dance artist, explained: “We are extremely honoured to have Ustad Dharambir Singh and his renowned pupil Roopa Panesar who are two of the UK’s renowned Sitar maestros.

“It is rare for a teacher and student of this calibre to perform together and, joined by Ustad Shahbaz Hussain, they also bring a unifying message of love and friendship by representing both the nations of India and Pakistan in the spirit of freedom and peace.

“The concert is therefore the perfect launch for this year’s Derby Season of Light which celebrates the diversity and cohesion of the 182 cultural communities in our city and county through various arts activities and events.

“And the universal theme of light will be even brighter this year as we celebrate India’s 75 years of independence.”

Miss Nath continued: “Last year’s Derby Season of Light had a huge impact on the city with around 15,000 experiencing our events both in person and online from as far away as India and the USA.

“This year we will continue to make concerts such as ‘Strings of Time’ available online so that everyone can enjoy such events but we are holding many more in-person activities and performances including a storytelling tour and Bollywood flash mobs in Derby and Belper.

“The highlight of the festival programme will undoubtedly be the Derby Lantern Parade in November, made up of hundreds of people from schools and community carrying lanterns they’ve made themselves at our workshops, leading the way to the Christmas Lights Switch On event.

“There will also be several new elements to the festival this year including a wonderful lantern sculpture trail designed by students at the University of Derby that connects our city centre with Normanton, the diverse cultural hub of Derby.  We want all the communities of Derby to feel part of DSOL and celebrate being one city.”

Steve Slater, CEO of Déda concluded: “We at Déda are so excited to be hosting the launch of Surtal Arts’ Derby Season of Light and to be part of an amazing programme that embraces and illuminates the entire city.”

Tickets for the ‘Strings of Time’ concert on September 10th cost £12 for concessions and £5 for live streaming and are available at  Information about all the Derby Season of Light activities, events and performances are available at

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