The winter solstice officially marks the longest night of the year in Canada, and is known as the official start of the winter season. But, since it already seems like we’ve been in the winter season for quite awhile in Vancouver – let’s just say it’s the start of the official countdown back to summer!
This year, winter solstice is being held on Wednesday, December 21 and to mark the longest and darkest night of the year, Vancouver will be hosting a party. You are invited to light up the night on Wednesday with the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival, taking place in three neighbourhoods across the city for the 23rd year.
Fire, lanterns, dancing, and good times. Those are just some of the highlights to expect from the much-loved annual tradition of the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival. It’s a great time to explore the neighbourhoods of Vancouver and meditate on the fact that there’s only 6 more months until that sweet, sweet summer sun comes back.
In 2016, the Lantern Festival will be taking place across three neighbourhoods: Yaletown, Granville Island, and Strathcona. Both Yaletown and Granville Island will also feature the hypnotic “Labyrinth of Light” that allows you to wander through a maze of light in an act of meditation. Something that is not to be missed.
Yaletown Lantern Festival
The Yaletown festival will centre around the Yaletown Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews). There will be an array of indoor festivities, with simultaneous activities and performers throughout the venue.
Starting at 6:00 pm, there will be a parade starting from The Gathering Place (609 Helmcken Street) that will lead back to the Yaletown Roundhouse.
Yaletown will also host a secret lantern garden, dancing, live music performances, a lantern workshop, and a labyrinth of light created with over 600 pure beeswax candles. To ensure space in the labyrinth, you’ll have to buy a ticket for $7 at the door or online.
More information about the Yaletown festivities can be found on the Lantern Festival website.
Granville Island Lantern Festival
Starting at 6:00 pm, there will be three lantern processions starting from the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Granville Island Triangle Square and Leg-in-Boot Square all converging at the Water Park on Granville Island.
Indoor activities will be available from 7:00 – 9:00 pm, with hot chocolate, live music, family dancing, and another labyrinth of light. The labyrinth is said to help release old attachments and envision new possibilities as the darkest night of the year births a new season.
From 7:00 – 9:00 PM, follow the Carnival Band over to Ron Basford Park where the Urban Haidas welcome the crowd and Inspired Circus weaves their fiery magic as a flaming sun sculpture lights the darkest night. There will also be an exciting fire finale at 9:10 pm, so make sure you stick around for that!
More information about the Granville Island festivities can be found on the Lantern Festival website.
Strathcona Lantern Festival
Starting at the Strathcona Community Centre (601 Keefer Street), join a lively lantern procession led by African Crossing Drum Ensemble. Proudly carry your own homemade lanterns or simply attend as an observer while you head to McLean Park for a warm little one-hour neighbourhood frolic from 6:30 – 7:30 PM with the ladies of Tiddley Cove Morris (traditional English workers’ music and dance).
In the past, the East Van portion of the lantern festival had also included the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. But, the garden is is undergoing pond restoration throughout December and cannot participate in the festival until next year.
In the meantime, the festivities at MacLean park will more than make up for it!
More information about the Strathcona festivities can be found on the Lantern Festival website.