I have lived in Vancouver BC for twenty years now and have worked almost every weekend of those twenty years. This resulted in me missing every: parade, festival, farmers market, ethnic day celebration, cultural event, health and lifestyle expos,.... you name it, I missed it! So this year it is my mandate to try and experience as many of these as I could. For different reasons, I didn't have my camera for the first few things I attended, so will post a few pictures that I found online to illustrate what I was seeing. I will try and do a better job of chronicling the rest of my adventures as I go along. So sit back, be an armchair traveller and join me as I check out my city and what it has to offer.
First up was the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival. It is held simultaneously in five different Vancouver neighborhoods on December 21st. I must admit, I have attended this festival before in two of the other locations. Once on Granville Island and the other in Yaletown. This time I went to experience it at the Dr Sun Yat-Sen gardens in Chinatown.
The Secret Lantern Society hosts a number of city-wide lantern parades and events through-out the year and all of them are worth checking out if you have never been to one before. There is something magical about the glow and flicker of candle-light on a dark night, when all things wondrous might happen. The look on a small child's face as they gaze with awe at the fantastical creations is a joy to behold. The infectious music from the various carnival bands are a delight for the senses. The incredible creativity of everyone is inspiring. These are the perfect events to come and really feel like you are part of a community for you don`t just come to look , you are the parade, you are the show. This is your time to shine and entertain, whether by your fanciful dress, your creative lantern or your skills as a juggler, stilt walker, drummer etc.
The Dr Sun Yat-Sen gardens are wondrous on their own, but filled with glowing lanterns, their light dancing in the reflecting pools, is a whole other experience in itself. A band played beautiful music in the central gazebo as people milled around on the many paths throughout the gardens. It was a sweet, gentle evening, perfect for lovers taking a stroll.
Each of the locations has something unique to offer on this night that celebrates the return of the sun. The one at SE False Creek had a wonderful fire show on a small hill. A representation of the sun cresting the top of the hill was lit on fire and dancers spinning fire poi`s whirled around in a frenzy of joyous celebration. At the Roundhouse in Yaletown, there were many activities going on, one of which is a magical labyrinth made of candles flickering in paper bags which created a place to take a sacred walk through the allegorical womb to be reborn with the sun.
The Lantern Festivals are a sweet, gentle way to celebrate the return of the sun when the world is at it`s darkest hour. I plan to go again next winter and will check out the celebrations on Commercial Drive this time. All- in- all , a very pleasant evening, suitable for the whole family. Two thumbs up :)