Hundreds join in twilight lantern procession at White Horse

This Is Wiltshire: Hundreds join in twilight lantern procession at White Horse Hundreds join in twilight lantern procession at White Horse

More than 500 people joined a procession up Roundway Hill on Saturday night as the Devizes Millennium White Horse was outlined in lanterns.

The event was part of the Salisbury International Arts Festival but the participation was almost entirely local.

People of all ages who regularly take part in the Devizes Christmas Festival lantern procession were on parade again at the weekend for the unique occasion.

The crowd assembled at the foot of Folly Road and, led by the Swindon Samba Band and two enormous white horse lanterns, processed along the road to Roundway village and up the increasingly steep hill to the field on farmer Chris Combe’s land where the White Horse was created in September 1999 to welcome the new millennium.

Those taking part were directed by marshalls as to where to place their lanterns and before long the huge formation was surrounded by eerie blue light.

The resulting spectacle was visible miles away in the centre of Devizes and beyond.

Dave Buxton, artistic director of Devizes Outdoor Celebratory Arts (DOCA) said: "One of the best places to see it was the Green in Devizes but we also had people phoning in from Great Cheverell, which is eight miles away, to say they had a good view of it as well.

"It was a tremendous occasion. I thought it was perfect. We were extremely worried earlier in the day when there was such a strong wind you could hardly stand upright at the top of the hill.

"But an hour before we were due to set off, the wind dropped and we had perfect conditions. There was a small shower of rain but nothing to worry about."

Among the hundreds who climbed the hill on Saturday night were mayor and mayoress of Devizes, Kelvin and Pam Nash, taking part in their 65th engagement since the mayor making in May.

Cllr Nash said: "This is a marvellous event. I never expected so many people and it is a wonderful spectacle."

Sarah Padwick, who first had the idea of creating a white horse on Roundway Hill, said: "This really is a fantastic night. The horse really deserves this kind of tribute. It was a truly community effort."

Elizabeth Greed, widow of the horse’s designer, Peter Greed, said: "Peter would have been so proud."

Those taking part were rewarded for their efforts by entertainment from The Foxes and a pyrotechnic display by pa-Boom.

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