Illuminate and Thanksgiving 2016


Illuminate and Thanksgiving 2016 is a fun but truly symbolic partnership community, arts and heritage Mayflower 400 event.

Illuminate and Thanksgiving 2016

Crowdfunder | Event Details | Facebook Event

History and Significance

2020 will mark 400 years since the intrepid voyage of the pilgrims from Plymouth UK to Plymouth Massachusetts, U.S on the Mayflower.

This journey became significant in the founding of the United States of America as its’ invisible cargo were the core values of freedom and democracy which formed the basis of the U.S Constitution.

The ‘light’ symbol at the heart of Illuminate is epitomised in this quote by one of the pilgrims, William Bradford, who become Governor of Plymouth Plantation where the Pilgrims settled:


“Just as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.”


The Wampanoag Story

This year, our Illuminate & Thanksgiving commemorations are focusing on the Wampanoag Native American story.

The Wampanoag are the tribe who supported the pilgrims on their arrival in the New World and whose lands included what became Plymouth, New England.

Without their support, it is doubtful whether the pilgrims would have survived to reap their first harvest, which is celebrated as Thanksgiving.

Illuminate parade in 2015, credit: Fiona Evans

A young boy taking part in Illuminate 2015, credit: Fiona Evans

Illumination and Thanksgiving 2016

On 24 November, we will transport you to a magical world; part parade and part performance where community groups, schools and colleges transform themselves into imaginary tribes.

Following a ceremony starting at 4.45pm with speeches, poetry, music and song at the Mayflower Steps, these tribes will process at 5.40pm from Commerical Wharf on the Barbican to the Guildhall, telling the tale of Moshup the Giant through illuminated costumes, lanterns, theatre and dance. This extraordinary character is central to the culture of the Wampanoag. Moshup is believed to have been a benevolent being of gigantic frame and supernatural power, so enormous that he caught whales with his bare hands. Come and meet him!

The parade will pass near Plymouth Arts Centre, who are displaying some amazing projected artworks against their wall, before arriving at the Guildhall where you will be treated to a further fantastical digital projection display against the building at 6.30pm!

What impact will Illuminate and Thanksgiving have?

  • It will provide inspirational, inclusive and creative opportunities for children, young people and communities who often don’t have access to these forms of self-expression, arts and community participation. These can lead to improved well-being, confidence and community cohesion.
  • It will build international and national relationships by connecting us to our partners across the Atlantic in Massachusetts (USA) as well as in the other Mayflower compact partner locations in the UK and Holland. Many of these partners will also be holding Illuminate events.
  • It will raise awareness about the Mayflower 400 story and the importance and role of Plymouth in this, increasing our sense of pride in our city’s amazing history leading up to 2020.


Why are we raising money?

We are raising money for the ceremony (band, production), parade (school and community workshop costs including materials, artist facilitators and transport) and projection display (school and student workshops, technical expertise and equipment).

This year (Illuminate’s 3rd year in Plymouth) we are making it bigger and better than ever in order to reach more people and this is why we need your help!

We have a co-production ethos behind our project which means that most of it (e.g. the video, photos, costumes, lanterns, projections, ceremony) have been produced in partnership with communities, schools and students from Plymouth College of Art and Plymouth University.


If you are interested in supporting Illuminate & Thanksgiving, please click here.

Every pledge, large or small counts! The fundraising campaign ends on 24 November!

Young people carrying the candle lanterns at Illuminate 2015, credit: Fiona Evans

Who are we?

We are a broad partnership of Plymouth Culture, Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council, Plymouth University, Plymouth City Council, Plymouth College of Art, RIO, Plymouth History Centre, Arts Council England, Plymouth Arts Centre and Plymouth Waterfront Partnership. More are welcome!

How can you help spread the word?

Tell your friends, family and colleagues about the crowdfunder and post about it on your social media pages using #Illuminate2016 and @PlymouthUK2020.