Arts Derbyshire


Workshops Shine A Light on Traditional Willow and Diwali Arts

A series of workshops will be held over the half term holiday where families can make their own traditional lanterns and then join hundreds of others in the Derby Lantern Parade next month (November).

The workshops are part of the Derby Season of Light festival of activities, events and performances taking place between September and December coincides with Diwali, Bonfire Night, Hanukkah, Christmas and the preparations for Chinese New Year which all share the common theme of light.

The festival has been spearheaded by Derby’s South Asian arts organisation Surtal Arts and, this year, the will also mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.

Lantern making workshops are the opportunity to bring a touch of magical light to Autumn.  Led by artist, Kate Doncaster, participants are able to join workshops at different venues including several at Derby Season of Light festival partner Museum of Making as well as at Kedleston Hall, St James Centre, Derby Cathedral Centre and Derbyshire Chinese Welfare Association.

The Diwali and Chinese themed lanterns will be made from biodegradable materials including willow and tissue paper and lit with energy-efficient LED lights which will be held up on bamboo sticks.

The lanterns will be carried triumphantly in the Derby Lantern Parade on Saturday November ahead of Derby LIVE’s Christmas Lights Switch On event.

At the 700-strong Derby Lantern Parade, members of the public will join members of various community groups and pupils from nine local schools who are making their own lanterns at school with professional artists from Surtal Arts. The schools involved are Da Vinci Academy; Parkview, Allenton, Firs Estate, Grampian, Beckett, Dale, Asterdale and Brookfield primary schools and Alvaston junior school.

Further workshops have also been organised as part of the festival line-up – inspired by South Asian festivals and traditions including Pipli textile lanterns made from pre-loved saris which will then be displayed at the Museum of Making.

At other workshops, participants will get an opportunity to make and take home Rangoli, a special traditional Diwali art, with renowned international Rangoli artist Ranbir Kaur; Shisha (mirror) embroidery pictures and silk painting to make beautiful sun catchers.

The theme continues with a series of story telling sessions at various venues including the Museum of Making and St James Centre in Normanton – bringing to life the beautiful ‘Mama’s Saris’ book through drama, gestures and props and at the end children can dress up and ask questions.

Derby Season of Light 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.

Surtal Arts’ chair Nisha Nath, who is a celebrated South Asian dance artist, explained: “The workshops are a wonderful way for people across the city and county to learn more about traditional South Asian crafts which are such an important part of the festival calendar.

“The lantern workshops are also a great way to become part of the Derby Lantern Parade on Saturday November 12 which is an amazing extravaganza of dance and music from diverse communities across the city – lit by hundreds of lanterns of all shapes and sizes which are paraded through the city centre.”

To book a place on the workshops and to find out more about the other events, activities and performances during Derby Season of Light, please visit

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