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Hands-on .. Sticky-fingered lantern-makers Lorina Harding (left) and Trisha Reader prepare for the Geraldine Lantern Walk. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The woods along the Waihi River in Geraldine will be aglow this Saturday with scores of lanterns lining a route from Kennedy Park to Talbot St.

The occasion is the return of the Geraldine Lantern Walk, a free family event organised every second year by the Geraldine Academy of Performance and Arts.

“It’s a quite magical event, especially when the lights get turned on after dark,” academy chairman Rhys Taylor said.

A gathering at 6pm in the north end of Kennedy Park featuring drummers, dancers, storytellers and a short theatrical performance will begin the night.

“It might go for 15 to 20 minutes then the storytellers will lead the procession back to the academy where the fires will be blazing,” walk artistic director Sarah Johnston said.

The route through Kennedy Park, over the Waihi footbridge and back to the academy could be done in 10 minutes at a brisk walk, but she suggested allowing 20 to 25 minutes to enjoy it.

“You’ll be walking by, under and through lantern installations, looking at them from below and from above.

“We want people to take their time to enjoy the form and beauty on the night.”

Mr Taylor said the plan had been to start this year’s walk in Todd Park, making it longer, but the recent floods washed away the path, so the route was similar to the last one in 2019.

A heap more lanterns had been made, plus ones reused from previous events, so it would make it a more intense experience, he believed.

Teams of volunteers had been busy making the large paper and willow constructions at working bees for the past six weeks.

“This year we’ve probably made between 30 and 40 and then we have repurposed some existing lanterns into new installations .. we’re talking close to 70 in total,” Ms Johnston said.

They would be hung from trees and other points along the route.

Ms Johnston estimated the largest lantern was 4.5m across and 9m long.

Visitors were welcome to bring their own lanterns to add to the atmosphere, and the lanterns would remain lit until 9pm for those who wanted to walk through again or start after the main procession.

Some visitors would likely have star, cone, or Matariki lanterns made at workshops run as precursors to the event.

The academy is a not-for-profit charitable organisation; Creative Communities Timaru provided grant support for lantern materials. Donations on the day would be welcome.

If the lantern walk is cancelled due to weather, July 31 is the reserve date.