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Dark Nights at the Garlic Farm

The New Carnival Company has been working with local schools and community groups to light up the ancient site of Mersley Farm at Newchurch (present day site of The Garlic Farm) for a night time ramble with a difference. The site, which has played host to generations of farmers for over 6000 years, has been the inspiration for their new Illuminated lantern walk, Dark Nights, part of the East Wight Landscape Partnership’s ‘Down to the Coast’ programme. Along the escorted and animated trail, which stretches over 1 mile through fields and woodland, visitors will encounter sculptures and models of Neolithic flint tools, Iron age weaving, fields of ancient Spelt wheat, Roman coins and more, and will hear the shouts and drums of early 19th century British soldiers who were billeted in Newchurch whilst preparing to fight in the Napoleonic wars.

The event, which is the brainchild of Frankie Goldspink, Creative Director for the New Carnival Company, aims to bring together families and friends in a celebration of the great outdoors, whilst learning a little bit about the history on their doorstep as they enjoy the spectacle of the installations. Hundreds of adults, children and young people from surrounding schools, uniformed organisations and community workshops have been involved in the creation of the pieces as well as in making individual lanterns which they will carry to light up the way.

Frankie explained “we are developing the concept of the now familiar ‘lantern parade’ in new ways, by encouraging people to take inspiration from the landscape and from their own heritage to build larger and more informative creations. The walk, which is all off-road, will be made even more spectacular in the darkness of the countryside.”

As the clocks go back this weekend, Dark Nights at the Garlic Farm celebrates the passing of the seasons, marking the end of British Summer Time and the transition to darker winter nights. It provides a healthy alternative to the commercialism of Halloween.

The walks, which take place on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 October, start promptly at 6pm each evening, with free parking and free entry to the site. Hot seasonal food and drinks will be on sale afterwards, fresh from the Garlic Farm kitchens. Visitors are advised to bring a torch or similar if they don’t have a lantern, and to be prepared for wet, muddy and uneven tracks. The route is pedestrian only, no horses, bicycles or prams/pushchairs.

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