As promised, here are some photos (and the stories behind them) from The Pageant of Light last Sunday.
I didn't know quite what to expect and I was feeling a bit nervous as I trotted down into the woods on Sunday evening. I had a wicker basket full of bunting, and was hiding under my new, fluffy winter hat that I LOVE. It was a dull grey afternoon, starting to fade into dusk. There was that slightly dangerous and exciting bonfire night atmosphere that seems to hang around early evenings in Autumn. Anyway, as I headed into the Valley Gardens, there were some workmen in overalls eating fish and chips (which was enough to snap me out of my dreamy, fairytale nerves). The tree, (my appointed 'fairy' tree, which was about halfway along the procession route) had already been hung with ropes of fairylights. (Note the extremely picturesque Sainsbury’s bag in the photo. That was placed into frame specially).
Thankfully, this was an extremely climbable tree. (I’m unable to climb anything but extremely climbable trees). We hung bunting, fairylights and little wooden hearts on the branches.
As it approached 5pm, I changed into my ‘fairy’ costume. People who know me will know how completely out of character it is for me to wear a fairy costume (especially outside, on a frozen October night). Thankfully, my friend had leant me an enormously frothy petticoat, and I’m never averse to petticoats.
At dusk, everyone started to arrive - there were the pirates, lost boys (on motorcycles), mermaids and, of course, Peter Pan. A small flock of fairies were stationed under the ‘fairy’ tree to (rather wonderfully) give out the Wychwood Fairy wish vouchers.
The procession started at 5.30 by the birdcage-like bandstand, and was led by drummers and fire-eaters. There were thousands of people. It’s dizzying when that many people file past you for that amount of time, but wonderful to see so many smiling faces, and everyone in their Halloween costumes. I have never (photo-phobic as I am) been photographed or filmed so much in my LIFE. (I'd just like to point out that the photo above is a diva-ish mermaid, not me - I didn't look even remotely as impressive).
The procession eventually wound its way past us, and onto the main field (I missed this bit, unfortunately, but I have it on good authority that Tinkerbell’s ‘death’ – where she drinks the poison for Peter Pan – was re-enacted on stage, and the crowd ended up roaring ‘I do believe in fairies’ before this fire sculpture of Tinkerbell was set alight).
It was a wonderful evening, and I feel so lucky to have been (a teeny) part of it.
PS: (Several of these photos were taken by the very talented Simon C Day).