Arts Derbyshire


Festival will shine a light on Derby’s dazzling diversity

Festival will shine a light on Derby’s dazzling diversity

Surtal Arts, the long-established Derby organisation rooted in traditional South Asian arts, is spearheading a new family festival in the city and county which aims to bring together local communities and shine a light on hope for the future.

Derby Season of Light (DSOL) will include workshops, community events and arts performances between October and December – coinciding with major cultural and religious festivals including Eid, Diwali, Bonfire night and Christmas – which all share the common theme of ‘light’.

Through this theme of light, the festival will also celebrate city’s dazzling diversity and cohesion amongst local communities as well as honouring and paying tribute to the ongoing courage and dedication of NHS Staff and all key workers during the pandemic that have connected people through these most challenging of times.

Surtal Arts has developed an extensive festival programme involving a wide range of local people and professional artists.

The organisation has worked in partnership with Derby Live, Derby Museums, Air Arts, Junction Arts and No 28 community centre in Belper and Derby Season of Light is supported by Arts Council England, Derby City Council, Foundation Derbyshire, Community Action Derby, Belper Town Council and the National Lottery Community Fund.

Nisha Nath, chair of Surtal Arts and a celebrated South Asian dance artist, explained: “Derby is a vibrant home to 182 different cultures and we have reached out to other communities to make Derby Season of Light a wonderful celebration of our city’s diversity through various arts activities, events and performances with the universal theme of ‘light’.

“2020 has been a hard year for many. DSOL unites the whole city in giving back to our valued and amazing NHS staff and other key workers in the form of art. Such a positive, warm and welcoming theme is even more important after 19 months of anguish and disruption for so many people.

“It will give everyone a chance to re-engage with other people, play an active part in the arts which is so important for mental well-being and enjoy some new and uplifting performances.

“The festival will bring people together to show how we have all overcome adversity, acknowledge our heroes and encourage diversity and inclusion to move forward together in a positive way.

“As well as bringing together local communities, a key part of Derby Season of Light will be to ‘shine a light’ on local artists whose livelihoods have been severely impacted by Covid restrictions to give them an opportunity to perform and engage with live audiences again.

“Our aim moving forwards is that this first Derby Season of Light will create a legacy for Derby’s diverse community groups and arts organisations to join in future years and engage with even more local communities.”

Several of the activities have been organised and co-produced in partnership with Derby Museums and will take place at the new Museum of Making and the Museum and Art Gallery. These include a lantern workshops as part of Assemble: Derby’s Festival of Making on Saturday 23rd October and a ‘Stories of Diwali’ event as part of the Museum of Making’s new First Fridays late series on 5th November.

Dan Webber, Events Programmer at Derby Museums, said: “Derby thrives on collaboration and we are thrilled to be working with Surtal Arts as a cultural partner on this high-profile city event, and co-producing with them as part of our First Fridays line-up.”

Air Arts is one of the key partners. Head of Arts Laura Waters said: “We are really delighted to be part of this festival with Surtal Arts and to give our staff the opportunity to take some time out to make this Roshni artwork which will be displayed as part of our Autumn/Winter 2021 arts exhibition ’Solace’.

“The Season of light festival promises to be a truly uplifting series of events for our city. We are looking forward to celebrating the rich heritage of South Asian art and culture at our hospitals and bringing a much-needed focus on light and celebration as we approach winter.”


See below for festival information

Workshop Programme | Various venues – October and November

  • Saturday 23 October (10-4pm), Museum of Making, Derby
  • Artist-at-Work, Lantern Sculpture Build as part of Assemble: Derby’s Festival of Making.

Derby Season of Light will start in early October with a series of lantern-making workshops led by professional artists and involving schools, community groups and at city venues.

Participants will make willow, clay and pipli (Indian textile) lanterns of all shapes and sizes which will be illuminated by battery-lit LED lights as well as rangoli designs.

Participants will include around 300 pupils at five local schools: Redwood Junior, Grampian Primary, DaVinci Academy, Allenton Primary and Firs Primary as well as a further 150 members of community groups. These include Derby Hindu Temple, Funability; Deaf-initely and Umbrella and involving women with hearing disabilities as well as children and adults with mental health and learning difficulties.

Members of the Ukrainian community will also make traditional carolling sticks with stars, moons and other symbols.

See professional artist Stephanie Sian Coley at work creating the show-stopping lantern sculpture that will head up the Derby Lantern Parade on November 13.

Entry to Assembly is 4 for adults whilst under 16’s are free. Book in advanced through Derby Museum’s website or call 01332 641901 (suitable for age 7 and over)


Lantern making workshops

  • Tuesday 26 October (10am-1pm), Museum of Making, Derby

Special lantern workshop open to deaf and hard of hearing women only, especially from the South Asian community with a transcriber and BSL interpreter (support in partnership with Deaf-initely).

Tickets £5, book at:
Deaf-initely members must book through Deaf-infitely: Tel/Fax: 01773 828233; Text/Facetime: 07421 827 162 Email:

  • Tuesday 26 October (2-5pm), Museum of Making, Derby – Public lantern making workshop

Tickets £5, book on the Surtal Art’s website here. Suitable for 7+.


Rangoli workshops

  • Saturday 23 October (10am-3pm), Number 28 Community Hall, Belper

Tickets £5, book on the Surtal Art’s website here. Suitable for age 6 and above.

  • Wednesday 27 October (10am-12pm), Museum of Making, Derby

Tickets £5, book on the Surtal Art’s website here. Suitable for age 6 and above.


Diwali clay lamp (diya) workshop

  • Wednesday 27 October (1-3pm), Museum of Making, Derby

Tickets £5, book on the Surtal Art’s website here. Suitable for age 6 and above.


Derby Lantern Parade

  • Saturday November 13, 4pm to 5.30pm – Free entry

Ahead of Derby Christmas Lights Switch-On Event – The Spot to Corporation Street
Everyone who has been involved in the workshops will be invited to gather at the Spot (St Peter’s Street, outside Poundland, Derbion) for the start of the Derby Season of Light community lantern parade on Saturday November 13 ahead of the Derby Christmas Lights Switch-On event.

Starting at 4pm, the lantern parade will be led by the mighty Dhol drummers who learnt the skill with Surtal Arts. They will be followed by hundreds of people holding colourful lanterns, Piplis and Ukrainian carolling sticks.

The Lantern Parade will move down St Peter’s Street and the Cornmarket, through the Market Place and onto the steps of the Council House in Corporation Street at around 5.30pm.

Parade route and joining instructions can be found on the Surtal Art’s website.


‘Our City of Making’ Performance

  • November 13, 6pm, Derby Council House, Corporation Street (TBC)

Following the Lantern Parade, the spectacle will continue with a specially-commissioned performance of ‘Our City of Making’.

This cross cultural dance piece, commissioned by Junction Arts as part of their regional project ‘Our Place’ showcasing the people and places of the East Midlands, through the arts. Performed by Surtal Arts, Naachda Sansaar and Hoverla Dance Ensemble, this dance celebrates Derby as a ‘city of making’ known for its rich engineering and cultural heritage.

This dance installation brings together two of the city’s oldest diverse communities, Indian and Ukrainian, powered by fusion choreography that explores similarities of their two distinctive folk-dance styles (Bhangra and Cossack) that weaves in and out, creating a colourful, high-energy, all-male fusion dance performance at the steps of the Council House.

The fusion piece pays homage to the city’s diversity and creativity in the spirit of friendship, partnership and progress.


Roshni – The Art of Diwali Installation

  • November 1st onwards, Royal Derby Hospital

Surtal Arts has teamed up with Air Arts, the arts charity for The University Hospital of Derby and Burton which promotes health and wellbeing through the arts and participation, to create an exhibition of Rangoli artwork and Pipli lanterns entitled ‘Roshni’

Rangoli is the ancient Hindu artform which is a key part of Diwali (celebrated this year on November 4).

Traditionally used to adorn a home’s doorway Rangoli signifies bringing good luck and prosperity on the house and in the family and to welcome guests.

International artist Ranbir Kaur will work virtually with the Derby and Burton Hospitals ‘Made in NHS’ staff art club between October 8 and 15 to create Rangoli artwork using coloured rice, lentils and beans which will be exhibited around the Royal Derby Hospital alongside Pipli lanterns from November 15.

Due to hospital restriction, it is not advisable for any members of the public to attend the hospital unless they have a medical reason or have been instructed directly by the Hospital to attend. However, the artwork can be viewed online on Surtal Arts’ website and on Air Arts social media channels.

The Roshni is funded by Air Arts and the National Lottery Community fund.


Stories of Diwali

  • Friday November 5, 6-9pm –Museum Of Making, Derby (part of Museum of Making’s First Fridays late series.
  • Friday November 19 6.30-9.30pm – No 28 community centre, Market Place, Belper

Using Indian Classical and creative Bollywood dance performance and digital projection, celebrated dancer Nisha Nath, takes the audience through a journey from traditional mythological story of Diwali to present day celebration of Diwali in Bollywood and in our everyday families.

The evening will culminate in an audience participation Bollywood dance and sharing of traditional Diwali refreshments.

Tickets for the performances cost £10 which includes refreshments. To book in advance for both performances, please visit:

The event in Belper is in partnership with No 28 and is funded by Belper Town Council and Arts Council England.


Smaran (Remembrance) Indian Classical Music Concert

  • Friday December 10, 6.30pm-9pm | Joseph Wright Gallery, Derby Museum and Art Gallery, The Strand

Surtal Arts has commissioned British Asian musician Kaviraj Singh to compose and perform a special piece of music entitled Smaran (remembrance) which reflects the impact of the pandemic and the climatic disasters that have affected the world.

The piece is in honour of the NHS and all key workers who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and dedicated to all those who have lost their lives to Covid-19 and the fires and floods that have engulfed parts of the world brought on by climate change.

The concert will be performed against the backdrop of the work of famous Derby painter Joseph Wright.

Tickets for in person performance are limited, so early booking is advisable. Tickets cost £12 will include refreshments. The performance will also be live-streamed online for £5 and all tickets are available to book online on the Surtal Art’s website.

For more information about all the Season of Light activities, events and performances, please visit:

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