Burning the Clocks

Brighton is the sparkling city that hosts the legendary burning the clocks festival. The celebration entails an outpouring fun of blazing fireworks and bonfire that brighten up even the darkest nights in winter. It also allows you to say goodbye to the old year and usher the new one in an exciting and intriguing way.

What is burning the clocks festival?

Burning the clocks is a lantern parade that passes through the streets of Brighton annually. The event takes place on the 21st December to mark the shortest day of the year. Typically, it is about welcoming the return of the sun and bringing merriment to the winter season. The lively celebration is also a time for reflection and thought.

The history of the burning of clocks

The festivities of burning the clocks started as way for this close-knit community to honour the Co-operative Movement 150-year anniversary. The first procession was held in 1993 and has ever since brought people from all walk of life to celebrate the ethos that binds the city of Brighton together. Today, it is run by Same Sky, a community arts charity in Brighton.

Christmas and burning of clocks

Christmas used to be fun - from light decorations in the house to the much anticipated Christmas tree delivery Brighton. However, people began over-commercialising Christmas, making it more of a business than a time of sharing love, memories, and laughter. Burning the clocks was created as an antidote to this issue. It turns the spotlight way from the commercial side of Christmas and brings people together through the shared experience of art. It also allows everyone to celebrate the season regardless of your faith or creed.

The burning of clocks lantern procession

Burning the clocks starts with a procession of glowing lanterns made from white tissue paper and willow canes, also known as withies. The lanterns can be simple or elaborate designs such as dragons, goblins, mythical creatures, and aliens.

The procession usually begins at New Road at about 6.30pm runs through the North Street, Ship Street, East Street, to the seafront on Madeira drive. The event rounds off at 8pm with a beach bonfire party coupled with loud music and explosion of fireworks over the sea.

The convoy is usually led by local brands, dancers, and artistic performers that liven up the atmosphere with dances and music. This creates a carnival atmosphere that contrast with the winter darkness since the music will have you thinking about cocktails and sunshine.

Burning the clocks costumes and themes

The festival has costumes and themes that participants should adhere to. The costumes include a clock face image to represent the passing of time while the theme typically reflects the mood of the people and the nation in that year. The theme can also relate to shared memories, lost things, moments that people hold dear, and treasures that have linked the community of Brighton.

How to participate at burning the clocks festival

The procession usually features over 2,000 participants and can attract more than 20,000 onlookers every year. The participants can exercise some creative flair by creating the lanterns or purchasing the kits from the organisers. The kit will include four wristbands for the parade and willow and tissue to make two lanterns that reflect the year’s theme.

However, if lantern-making and marching around town do not indulge you, join the crowds and watch the exhibition passing. The ideal places to watch the convoy is Madeira Drive and Upper Terrace of Marine Parade. Avoid the New Road as it is usually the assembly zone and there is no place for audience.

How is burning the clocks festival funded?

Burning the clocks is a free community festival. Same Sky receives funding from Brighton City Council as well as online crowfunding to cover costs. Residents can pledge online and in exchange for this support, you might be rewarded with personalised lanterns, Graham Crater burning the clocks print, or the privilege of lighting the festival’s bonfire. The event is also dependent of the generosity of the onlookers making donations along the procession route.

The takeaway

Burning the clocks is all about spending a wonderful evening with the Brighton close-knit community. With the remarkable lantern procession and the fireworks to top it off, the festival is an excellent way to enjoy the unique pebbly beach and breath-in the fresh seaside air. Besides, you can reflect the winter days that have passed while renewing the energy that comes with the sunlight.

This blog is dedicated to this fabulous event! Stay tuned for up dates nearer Christmas.

We have no affiliation with this event or it's organisers. We are just great big fans!