Big Burns Supper carnival in Dumfries

My Dumfries Diaries wouldn’t be complete without a photo account of Big Burns Supper carnival, the Europe’s largest winter festival that takes place in Dumfries in January to celebrate Robert Burns’ life, his spirit and Scottish culture.

Last year I had a bad cold, and John and I couldn’t make it to see the lantern parade though the town centre. So I couldn’t imagine the scale of the festivities and the amount of care, imagination and effort invested in it by organisers, art directors and participants.

This year I was dazzled by the variety of lantern shapes that flooded the streets of Dumfries – sea creatures, birds, dragons, insects and teapots – with which Doonhamers came up. Instead of 2,015 planned lanterns to mark UNESCO Year of Light there were 3,000! 10,000 people came out for Burns night carnival, 4,000 alone actively taking part in the parade.

Giant interactive puppets looked impressive, so were the whimsical costumes of dancers and singers, and the darkly sober carrot funeral float that drew attention to environental and farming issues.

I wanted my photographs to reflect these vibrant colours and the strong festive communal buzz generated by this spectacular event.

A 10 foot octopus paraded on the streets of Dumfries during Big Burns Supper carnival

A 10 foot octopus paraded on the streets of Dumfries during Big Burns Supper carnival

Schools, groups and organisations prepared handcrafted imaginative lanterns for the procession

Schools, groups and organisations prepared hand-crafted imaginative lanterns for the procession

Dumfries Community Choir sings The Beatles' Let it be

Dumfries Community Choir sings The Beatles' Let it be

Dumfries Community Choir is followed by a giant Sergeant Pepper-esque character

Dumfries Community Choir is followed by a giant Sergeant Pepper-esque character

Young costumed dancers contribute to the parade extravaganza

Young costumed dancers contribute to the parade extravaganza

Large-scale puppets looked really spectacularly

Large-scale puppets look really spectacularly

Colourful tattie-bogle scarecrows

Colourful tattie-bogle scarecrows

Doonhamers bury a carrot to highlight environmental issues

Doonhamers bury a carrot to highlight environmental issues

A little girl with a lantern leading the Sling library parade participants

A little girl with a lantern leading the Sling library parade participants

There is no celebration of  Scottish culture without the pipers!

There is no celebration of Scottish culture without the pipers!

Thousands turned out to set Dumfries town centre alight with their lanterns

Thousands turned out to set Dumfries town centre alight with their lanterns

Tremendous work was involved to produced this variety of whimsical lantern shapes

Tremendous work was involved to produced this variety of whimsical lantern shapes

Costumed carnival participant on the Plainstanes

Costumed carnival participant on the Plainstanes

Yellow-red star creation float in the air above the carnival

Yellow-red star creation float in the air above the carnival

The video highlights of the televised lantern parade might be of interest for the ‘who is who’ commentary.

If you want see more photos from this event please visit my Big Burns Supper Carnival Flickr gallery.