The streets of Brighton were doused in light on the longest night of the year.

Hundreds of children held their lanterns aloft as they joined the Burning the Clocks celebration last night (December 21).

A parade of people tottering on stilts, little girls in clock dresses, paper clocks and flowers wound its way through the city before lanterns were lit on the beach.

See all pictures taken by Argus photographer Sam Stephenson on our dedicated gallery page: Burning the Clocks 2012

Thousands of people lined the streets to summon the sun, embrace winter and celebrate the passing year as the rain abated for the spectacular.

The procession, led by various local bands, followed the Our Lady of Light lantern down to the sea to welcome the lengthening days as the winter solstice passes. The official onset of winter in the northern hemisphere is marked by the winter solstice, which is usually on December 21.

Costumes featured clocks and clock faces to represent the passing of time.

Firework display

Hundreds of people watched from Madeira Drive as lanterns were set alight and fireworks shot into the night sky.

Excited Tomasz, six, from Golden Cross, took part in the parade after his father volunteered to help build the lanterns.

He said: “I watched it once before but this is the first time I’ve been involved in a parade.

“It’s really exciting. I can’t wait to burn my lantern.”

Five-year-old Erin, from Fairlight Primary School in Brighton, was wearing a material clock face as a skirt.

She said: “I watched it last year and wanted to be in it this time.”

LED lights

The bamboo sticks that lantern bearers clenched had battery packs attached to them, as the light inside came from bulbs instead of the candles used in previous years.

Mother of two Sandy Walsh, from Preston Park in Brighton, was sad to see the fire go.

She said: “I think there is a difference, I liked the candles.

“I just feel candles are more significant with the solstice.

“But I understand why they’ve done it and it still looks pretty.”

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