Merry & Bright – Festival of Light

What to expect

Merry and Bright is our annual winter event in partnership with local community artists and organisations, Ryde Town Council and Ryde Business Association. Audiences are invited to visit Ryde after dusk to discover fantastic lantern creations and popup entertainment on a walking circuit of about one mile around the town.

Our uniquely designed walking trail takes spectators to visit the magical Wildlife Garden in Vernon Square and the Dark Sky Learning Zone at St Thomas’s, whilst and marvelling at a collection of beautiful community made seasonal illuminations set in surprising locations. Some shops will be offering late night shopping opportunities and there will be seasonal refreshments available at a number of locations.

Ryde Merry and Bright walking trail maps are created each year to encourage you to download event information or can be collected from various pick-up points in town. This year New Carnival will be animating High Street, Union Street, Cross Street, Town Square, Upper George Street, Minghella Square, Vernon Square and St Thomas Garden.

Information about Merry and Bright 2023

Click through the sections below to read more about this year's festive event

Merry and Bright 2023 - The Ryde Express

Full Steam Ahead for Merry and Bright 2023!

Event Information

Plans are well underway to make this year’s Merry and Bright event in Ryde on the 8th and 9th December even bigger and better than ever before! The event will also be the finale of our Railway by the Sea project funded by South Western Railway so there will be a ‘Ryde’s Polar Express’ theme to this year’s event.

As soon as the full event programme is finalised we will share it with you here!

Lantern Parade

We already have several school and community groups confirmed to take part in the ever popular lantern parade, as well as several Carnival Royalty floats from the summer carnival season. If your school or group would like to be involved please get in touch!

The parade will start at 6pm from Aspire on Dover Street, moving up Star Street, down the High Street, and down Union Street. Participants will disperse from Western Gardens.

This year the parade will finish at the bottom of Union Street, and many businesses throughout the town are opening later, putting on entertainment and joining in the festivities.


There will also be entertainment around the town including a fire show from Stix Guy Kai, Huxley Magic, Abbey Brass and Vectis Brass Band, the Rug Band, and other musical performances, and activities. There will be a Craft Market in the Royal Victoria Arcade, a Silent Disco, drum and bass DJs, and independent films being shown. Plus much much more yet to be announced!


The town will be decorated with New Carnival’s fabulous lantern sculptures, with a large display in Vernon Square Gardens, where there will also be music and the Vernon Square Conservation society will be selling home made mulled wine, hot chocolate and festive bites.

St Thomas’s Rest Garden we will once again be setting up our Neon Garden, with new additions this year including artwork from pupils at Ryde School Pre-Prep and a display of neon string art created by learners on an upcoming evening course (see next page for details).

Look out for our new giant Moon lantern sculpture and all the fantastic art works created on our upcoming Adult and Community Learning Courses.

How to get involved if you are a local business

  1. Open up your shop or café in the Town centre for a late-night shopping experience
  2. Decorate and light up your windows in a Merry and Bright way to enhance the magical atmosphere
  3. Offer your premises (outdoors, roof top or shop front), to display a community made lantern work for the evening.

We work closely with Ryde Business Association to bring this event to life.

How to get involved as a participant or audience member

  1. Come along dressed up all Merry and Bright. Bring your own lantern if you have made one.
  2. Sign up for one of our community workshops.