Illuminate event to light up Gainsborough this November!

Gainsborough Illuminate 2019

Residents of and visitors to West Lindsey are invited to attend the final Illuminate event in Gainsborough to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower story this autumn.

A special Illuminate event involving lanterns, performers, music, projections, an arts trail and a spectacular fire garden will bring to an end the commemorations in the town, 400 years after the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving in America.

Last year’s event went online due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but this November the 400th anniversary event brings people back together to look back on the story of the Separatists’ journey to America in 1620. Many leading Separatists on the Mayflower, who later became known as the Pilgrims, came from the Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire region.

The event takes place at Gainsborough Old Hall and All Saints’ Parish Church throughout the evening on Saturday 13 November, from 6pm onwards. A specially commissioned Pilgrim story will be projected onto the walls of the Hall and will be repeated at regular intervals throughout the evening. At the same time, fire sculptures and performers will dance and entertain visitors in the grounds of the Old Hall and the adjacent church.

Audiences can also join in by bringing along their own candle lantern and following a self-led ‘Pilgrims Survival’ arts trail around Gainsborough’s historic quarter. Gainsborough Choral Society will perform David Fawcett’s new choral work, ‘A Sure Refuge’ at a concert in the Parish Church at 7.30pm.

Illuminate 2021 is the fifth event of its kind in the town, following on from last year’s online event where residents displayed lanterns in their windows and shared photos on social media.

This year’s theme is “Thanksgiving”, on the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving in America after their first year at Plymouth colony. Everyone is invited to take part by making their own LED lit lanterns and candles at home using ideas from an online toolkit or by collecting a free kit, and including a message to say what they are thankful for. You can then bring them to the Illuminate event, adding more colour and light to the commemorations.

You can also take part in the online Illuminate which takes place on Thursday 25th November (the date of Thanksgiving) by taking a photo of your candle at home and sharing it on social media using hashtag #OneSmallCandle. For ideas and details about kits for making your own lantern, visit, where you can also find out more about the activities on the night.

Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr Owen Bierley, said:

“The story of the Mayflower is of huge significance to the town of Gainsborough, and I welcome the opportunity to take part in the commemorations signifying the 400th anniversary of this incredible story.

“Following the challenging past two years, I welcome the opportunity for those both within West Lindsey – and those travelling to West Lindsey – to attend this extraordinary occasion and spectacular event. For many it has been a long and difficult 17-or-so months, and I am continually grateful that we are now in a position to bring events such as this back to the towns and villages of our District.”

Mayflower 400 Officer, Dr Anna Scott, said:

“We opened our commemorative season of events for the Mayflower anniversary with a spectacular Illuminate in 2019, and the town was filled with fantastic lanterns made by children from across Gainsborough and beyond.

“This year’s final commemoration will be very special, bringing people together again and giving us the chance to think about a heritage which we share with places and communities across the world.”

This year’s Illuminate is the culmination of work developed over the last 5 years, following the creation of the new partnerships and funding awards. Gainsborough’s cultural programme of events and activities has been made possible thanks to a £100,000 grant from Arts Council England.

More details about what’s planned for the 13 November will be shared over the coming weeks. For regular updates follow Discover Gainsborough on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information about Mayflower 400 and Pilgrim Roots, please our Pilgrim Roots page.