On a cold Saturday in January Thornton Heath came alive with thousands of people descending on Trumble Gardens to see the magical light festival.
The event sponsored by Croydon Council was produced in a bid to wow the judges for the Mayor of London’s Borough of Culture initiative with Sadiq Khan set to announce the winner as The Chronicle went to press.
Disappointingly, Croydon lost out to Waltham Forest which will receive the title and £1.35m prize in 2019, followed by Brent in 2020.
Following Lumière London the previous week, the light installations from Leicester Square were transferred to Trumble Gardens creating an illuminating backdrop to a series of incredible live performances from local talent organised by CR7 Culture and compared by Well Versed’s Darren Randon.
Singers and dancers including: Mitra Djalili, Dede Davis, Alex KO, Stush, Dave Koor, the Skamonics and folk band Slyvane entertained the crowds well in to the night.
It was complimented by the return of the second CR7 Market, run by Thornton Heath Community Action Team, with many stalls selling out.
During the five hour event 5,300 people passed through the gardens many families with young children mesmerised by the illuminated wildlife lanterns and the realistic flamingo puppeteers.
The leader of the council Tony Newman along with Paula Murray, Croydon’s cultural director, mingled with the crowds and were both incredibly impressed with the organisation and atmosphere.
There was lots of praise for how the event was run by Think Events particularly their friendly stewards.
One of the objectives of the Borough of Culture programme is to ‘shine a light’ on local neighbourhoods and if successful there will be funding for a programme of cultural works across the borough – with Thornton Heath one of the areas already well placed to potentially benefit from a successful outcome.
Annual events such as Thornton Heath Arts Week, Parade of Nations and of course the long running Thornton Heath Festival are complimented by positive organisations providing an outlet for young people such as Well Versed Ink, Young Girls Thrive and Music Relief.
This combined with the success of the recently established CR7 Market showcasing local arts, crafts and food along with the amazing response by the community to the festoon workshop should go along way to shining the spotlight on Thornton Heath.
The appeal to help with the festoons saw over 200 local people galvanised to collect 1250 plus plastic bottles and attended various workshops to make the chandeliers for Lumière London.
Chetna Kapacee, from CR7 Culture, who organised the performances, said: “Thornton Heath Light Festival alongside the regeneration works and associated activities demonstrates a community of incredible creativity and a very proactive Thornton Heath Community Action Team makes Thornton Heath ideally placed to lead and deliver an active programme of cultural activities.”