Burning the Clocks: Brighton’s Most Secular and Sizzling Way to Mark Winter Solstice

On the sandy and chilly shore of British Town of Brighton, winter solstice triggers a bizarre and fiery fiesta called ‘Burning the Clocks’. It is not any kind of an ancient ceremony but a modern urban ritual introduced two decades ago for replacing the superstitious traditional festivals of welcoming a new season. The fiesta is celebrated to commemorate the passing of time (by burning clocks) and welcoming the new season’s sun in the most thrilling manner.

Overview on Burning the Clocks

On every 21st December that is marked as the year’s shortest day, Same Sky organizes for this much-loved, family-based, and caste-free event in Brighton. Same Sky is the south East England’s largest community art charity commemorating the 150th centenary of the Co-operative Movement but now grown enough to pull 20,000 people for this event.

Burning the Clocks 2014

(Photo credits: Peter Reime)

The festival is arranged as a unique community event combining a family lantern procession followed by an impressive fire and fireworks show, thus gathering the whole city for welcoming the lengthening days. People make their own willow and paper lanterns and carry them throughout the city via the lantern parade after which they put them in the fire lit on the Brighton beach, symbolizing the year’s end. This is followed by a sizzling fire show wherein a giant sculpture is ignited, fireworks light the sky, and live music is played.

The Parade Of Burning the Clocks

Almost 2,000 people tend to participate in the parade that starts at 6:00pm. At 5:00pm, they all meet at the Corn Exchange where the officials check their lanterns to ensure safe as well as smooth parade. With lit lanterns, the spectacle starts with people of all ages going down the New Road at Madeira Drive.

Burning The Clocks

At the edge of the street, spectators yell in line for cheering the parade of light passing through the way for reaching to the shorefront. Around 20,000 spectators witness the motley spectacle in cold, which features white shapes signifying the longest night’s darkness. At around 7:15pm, the final parade group arrives at the beach at drums beating and the fire show coming into action.

Lantern Burning and Fireworks

The handmade willow and paper lanterns, emblematically full of hopes and dreams, are put into a blazing bonfire. This marks the second phase of the gala, which recalls one of the symbolic sizzling of art at the Burning Man fiesta in Nevada. With the building of music, larger lanterns are exploded and the mass yells with excitement. The evening ends with an upsurge of fireworks seen over the shore at 8pm.

For enjoying the best view, it is recommended watching from the high Madeira Drive. You will come across temporary fencing for keeping access to lower levels at bay only for the purpose of safety.

The best way to enjoy the festival is to create a lantern on your own and participate in the parade. However, as only the approved lanterns are allowed for safety reasons, it is recommended buying an official lantern kit from one of Same Sky outlets.

Entry Fee For Burning the Clocks



New Road, Madeira Drive, Brighton, East Sussex

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