The Burning of the Clock’s is one of Brighton’s annual festivals. Taking place on the Winter Soltice, a few days before Christmas, it was started by the arts group Same Sky in 1993. It involves a procession of lanterns through the town to the beach where they are ceremonially burned.
I’ve been to the Burning of the Clocks a few times over the years. Most times I’ve watched the parade, then wandered to the beach where I found myself in a massive crowd. Some years, unable to see anything, I’ve headed for a warm bar before the fireworks.
This year was different, because the event took place in appalling weather. It was not as bad as 2009, where snow and ice caused the festival to be cancelled; but the rain meant the crowds were much thinner. Despite the weather, the samba bands were there, and I admire the people who kept dancing in costumes designed for summer rather than winter rain.
We waited on the seafront as the lanterns were stripped of fairylights and added to the bonfire. It took some time to light, eventually getting going with some kerosene. For once, I had a perfect view of the event, although wind meant the fireworks were cancelled.
I’m glad the burning of the clocks went ahead despite the rain, and that people did turn out. And I am also glad that I was able to see it clearly this year.
It’s good to have these events to mark the year:
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A few years ago I attended the first of Brighton’s traditional March of the Mermaid events. I walked in the drizzle from Hove Lawns to Brighton Pier with a crowd of people in fancy dress. At the traffic lights near the aquariums, an Italian woman asked me what the festival was and I told her. She asked me what it was for and I couldn’t say.