LIGHTING up Lismore on the darkest day of the year.

From humble grass-roots beginnings over two decades ago, the Lismore Lantern Parade has grown to become the city's biggest and most iconic annual event.

And it's not hard to see why.

Parading down Molesworth Street, onto Magellan and through Keen Street on Saturday night, went larger than life lanterns of nearly every creature under the sun - both real and imagined.

A bagpipe band led the march, followed by Pegasus the flying horse, the dreamtime snake and goanna and a cascade of sea creatures.

Larger than life koalas, Where the Wild Things Are monsters and the beloved dirt girl and scrap boy were just some of the lanterns returning to the parade ranks for another year.

This year's theme 'twenty light years on' was chosen because it encapsulates both the 20th anniversary celebrations and the light of the lanterns.

It's also the distance to the earth like planet Gliese 581 which, as a theme, "conjures images of plants, and galaxies and returns us to our original concept celebrating the Winter Solstice."

Each year, the parade coincides with the annual winter solstice - the shortest day of the year.

After the solstice, people can look forward to the days growing longer and the nights shorter as we begin to move back into summer.

The parade's fiery finale was centred on an 8m high lantern inspired by the sun rising over Mt Warning.

Event organiser Jyllie Jackson explained the significance of the final performances.

"Our beloved winged horse Pegasus heralds the return of the sun on this longest night as its warm rays spread over the land promising better times," she said.

"Finally, we celebrate the importance of dreams and visions in our strong and courageous community as we light the traditional bonfire and thrill at the finale fireworks."

An estimated 30,000 people descended on the town for the parade.

An equally impressive cast of about 3000 participants helped make the lantern parade a reality.



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