Bournemouth Candlelight Nights

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On every Wednesday evening throughout the month of August, Bournemouth keeps alive a tradition of candlelighting that begun in 1896. The tradition started when Princess Eugiene of France came to visit the town, and her route through the gardens was lit by candles. Today, the tradition is kept alive by colourful jars of candles placed on wooden frames in the Lower Gardens of Bournemouth. Many of the frames with the lit candles are made into shapes, such as cruise ships, sailboats, Union Jack flags, and some spell out words.


A little over a decade ago, I lived in Bournemouth for a short time in order to complete my MSc in Advanced Computing degree. I've been visiting the town for a few years before that, and I always remember seeing the candles and wooden frames in the summer, but I never knew the significance of the tradition.


I arrived in the Lower Gardens at about 8:00 in the evening, but it was not dark enough to light the candles (in my view), and lighting them starts at 8:00. Small sticks of candles were given out, and I did ask for one, but I was told that they were only for children. (However, adults were lighting the jars as many could not be reached by children.) As it was still light out, I looked around for a place to get supper, and the places I wanted to visit had 45-minute waiting times, so we settled for an Indian restaurant for a mediocre curry. 


When we arrived back in the Lower Gardens from supper, dusk was coming to an end and we managed to see many lit candles, but a lot of these had burned out by then. We managed to find a few candle sticks on the grounds and tried to locate jars that needed to be lit. We managed to find and light a couple. 


Afterwards, we headed to Sprinkles Bakery, which is a new ice cream and bakery shop in Bournemouth and located not far from the university buildings in the town centre. They had so many different flavours of ice cream to choose from, and they had some nice-looking cupcakes too. I choose chocolate brownie ice cream and Skittles ice cream. Yes, that was an odd combination, but it tasted nice.


The time was getting later, so we started to drive back to Basingstoke; I wanted to stop off at Burley in order to catch a glimpse of the shooting stars. When we got near Ringwood, the major road through the New Forest was shut northbound, and later on, the M27 was shut for road works too. This year, we've seemed to hit all of the construction work and road closures and have to go out of our way to get back home. I joked that so far, this year has been a "Diversion Year" as we're in "limbo", living month-to-month.


First, we took the detour to Burley and found a place to park up to see the shooting stars. Everyone else had the same idea of a parking space, though, and the road closure made the road even more busy with constant traffic. Despite the disappointments beyond control, we managed to see a few shooting stars and a couple really large ones. The best one we saw was when we'd just got out of the car and started to look in front of us. 


More of my photographs from the evening are posted below. This year's candlelight nights were not as nice as I've seen in previous years (a few years ago). 





For those interested in seeing Bournemouth's Candlelighting Nights, there is only one more opportunity this year: August 26, Wednesday. Lighting the candles starts at approximately 8:00 in the evening and continues until after dusk has ended.

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