THE New Carnival Company (NCC) lit up the dark November night on Saturday with the inaugural presentation of Dark Nights at the Villa.

More than 500 visitors gathered for the free community event, combining a spectacular illuminated street parade with the community enactment of a fairy tale pageant.

Set in motion by the magical illuminated parade working its way from Brading Primary School to the Brading Roman Villa, and followed on by the fairy tale pageant performed in the Villa’s grounds, the NCC hosted community workshops prior to the event where participants learnt how to fashion banners, Roman-style lanterns and giant puppets for the festivities.

The pageant’s script was written by local schools and community groups, and led by local storyteller, Sue Bailey, who also narrated the tale at Dark Nights.

The theme was inspired by the famous Roman mosaics of the Villa, and characters in the pageant included Medusa, Bacchus, Orpheus and the inimitable Cockerel-headed man.

Bringing added flavour and finesse to the show with choreographed dancing, music and performance were Brading and Oakfield Primary schools, Raw Samba, IW College performing arts students, Theatre Train and other members of the community.

Frankie Goldspink, creative director at the New Carnival Company, said: "We were overwhelmed by the very positive school and community response to this new creative project.

"So many people have learned about the heritage of Brading and the Roman Villa, and then applied that newfound knowledge into working together to produce this new and exciting night-time outdoor arts event."

Dark Nights is a part of the East Wight Landscape partnerships' Down to the Coast project, which aims to conserve and celebrate all the things that make the Isle of Wight a fantastic place to live, work and play.

The project nurtures and engages Island residents in the understanding and celebration of their local landscapes and heritage.

The NCC will be exhibiting their giant Dark Nights puppets along with information and photos from the event at Brading Roman Villa from Friday until Christmas.

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