Sadly, due to Covid 19 we had to cancel our 2020 Obon Festival. But that did not mean that we gave up on our dream of bringing our community together! We put our heads together and created instead a beautiful festival of lanterns.

At the end of Obon traditionally lanterns are lit to guide the spirits back to their world. The highlight of our Foyle Obon festival each year is the beautiful lantern ceremony that brings our festival to a close.

In 2020, we created a community wide project during the first lockdown. We wanted to keep our Obon Family connected in those early worrying days of COVID. 

We posted packs with lantern panels and arts supplies to our big Obon family of taiko players, dancers, Japanese artists, performers, school groups, collaborative partners, audience members. We held online ‘Draw-Ins’ on Zoom where we came together to draw and create our dedications on our lantern panels. 

We gathered all the panels and placed them on our lanterns. We curated and staged a beautiful display of lanterns in the Playtrail amphitheatre which is usually packed to the brim with people and performers and vibrates to the sound of taiko drums. 

It was poignant, we missed everyone and the hustle and bustle of the normal Obon festival. But it was also a display of strength and connection. It showed our determination to continue to celebrate our community and our arts.

All photographs taken by the super talented Gav Connolly.

R& D Media made a film of the lanterns to share with our community who could not be there with us. It is pure gorgeous and you can find it here.