Community and cultural development

Banish the dark nights with North Uist’s Festival of Light

With the winter solstice fast approaching, an Outer Hebrides community is bringing some light relief to N Uist this weekend.

On Saturday 15th December, Taigh Chearsabhagh will launch the pilot Fèis nan Solas (Festival of Light) at Langass Woodland.  Light projections, lights and lanterns will line the trees of Langass, and those attending will take part in a Great Bear Hunt, seeking the crann-arain or seven stars of The Plough in the constellation (Rinneamh) ceata-cam, Ursa Major or the Great Bear.

The Great Bear theme of the event brings in local folklore and legend of the islands, and is a nod to one of Uist’s most famous erstwhile visitors: Hercules the Bear, who escaped the filming of an advert in 1980 and went on the run for 24 days before being captured and safely returned. Following his much-publicized escape, Hercules went on to star in the Bond film ‘Octopussy’ and had a number of other TV roles.

Jane Morrison-Ross of Taigh Chearsabhagh commented: “The event is part of our Fèis Dubhlachd (Dark Months) Festival. The programme is bringing the local community together to celebrate some of the island’s culture and environment in the winter period.

“Many of our events are made possible thanks to local volunteers. The lanterns for the event have been made in Taigh Chearsabhagh’s Saturday Club workshops by children and their families, some of whom will help hang them through-out the woods.

“Taigh Chearsabhagh hopes that Fèis nan Solas is a hit with local people and it becomes a part of the events calendar on North Uist in future years. It’s a great way to illuminate the beauty of the North Uist landscape and the skies above it, at the darkest time of the year.”

Saturday Club is a series of lively Arts and Heritage themed workshops for children. Each workshop is led by a professional artist and a skilled assistant and involves making arts & crafts suitable for all abilities and skill levels.

The walk itself through the woodlands will be supported and led by Taigh Chearsabhagh staff and volunteers.

The Fèis nan Solas event will also celebrate the unique setting of Langass Woods, a community woodland managed by Urras nan Craobh’ Uibhist a Tuath (The North Uist Woodland Trust), which provides an environment for trees and wildlife to flourish on an island with no native woodland.

Malcolm Turner is a development manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which is supporting the Feis Dubhlachd Festival. He commented: “We’ve provided funding through HIE’s Language Innovation Investment programme to support Taigh Chearsabhagh run the winter programme of events. Their aim is to generate more visitors and revenue for the area in the off-season. I’m really looking forward to going along on Saturday.”

Taigh Chearsabhagh will run minibuses from the centre to Langass, a journey of roughly 5 minutes, and then will bring people back to Taigh Chearsabhagh when the event ends.

The café will be open throughout the evening, providing hot chocolate and food for all. Goody bags will be available to buy for the children. A craft fair will also form part of the event, with a chance for local producers to showcase some of the island’s diverse art, jewellery and other crafts.

For info and to pre-book a bus space see here

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