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Annual New Mills festival is run on community spirit

Lyn Bannister with the guide to the New Mills Art Trail
Lyn Bannister with the guide to the New Mills Art Trail

The woman behind the highlight of the New Mills social calendar loves the buzz of the festival.

Lyn Bannister moved to the town eight years ago and got involved with the art scene.

Now as the festival has grown, she has changed the route of the lantern parade and organised a street party.

The 54-year-old said: “The festival is something that people of all ages can get involved with and it really is about enjoying New Mills and all we have to offer.”

Formerly from Knowsley she moved down here with her husband and started to help with the website design for the festival and then she said things kind of snowballed.

“I’d take on extra jobs and pick up the slack when other volunteers said they didn’t want to do it and now I have been chairman for two years and I love it.”

The artist, who owns a studio in the town, has incorporated the Arts Trail into the September festival.

She said: “There are so many artists living in the area that we felt more needed to be done to showcase this.

“We used to run two festivals a year but it was so much work and as the New Mills festival is the main event we thought it made sense to combine the two.”

Last year an estimated 15,000 people from the town and surrounding area took part in the two-week event.

“It is great it has become so popular and I am sure we can build on this year on year,” she said.

The lantern procession started in the year 2000 and the route has now been changed and no longer ends in a firework display but a street party.

“The party is great and there has been such a positive reaction,” she said.

“People want to feel part of something and there is that strong sense of community spirit you can see when the street is full.”

She added: “I get a real buzz from the festival and I love creating opportunities for people and helping to make things happen for others and the festival has opened so many doors for people and businesses.”

The festival will be held between September 9-25.

Organising is a year-long job

Lyn is always thinking about the festival and gives her time to ensuring it is a success.

She said: “So much has to be done throughout the year like fundraising and the behind the scenes stuff that no one thinks about but is still very important.”

There is a team of around 20 volunteers who help out in the run up to the event and more than 50 marshals assist with the lantern procession.

“I love what I do, and now we have so many helpers it frees up more time for me to be able to do some art rather than just organise it,” she said.

Everything has to be signed off and agreed at a multi-agency meeting six weeks beforehand.

Lyn said: “It always feels like we are never going to be ready and the months disappear too quickly but we always manage it !”

To get ready for this year’s festival there will be a duck race later in the year with all the New Mills school children.