The 2017 Winter Solstice Lantern Festival Lights up the Darkest Day of the Year

winter solstice lantern festival 2017

Image courtesy of ItzaFineDay |

If the days are feeling shorter than usual, that’s because we’re slowly inching towards the shortest day of the year – winter solstice. Thursday, December 21 marks the start of the winter – the day with the smallest amount of daylight. Luckily, this just means that we’re getting closer and closer to summer!

To celebrate the winter solstice, Vancouver is hosting the 24th annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival, a series of community events on Thursday, December 21, 2017, that feature food, music and fire performances at night. The festival helps to make the ‘darkest day of the year’ a bit more bright.

This year, three neighbourhoods around Vancouver will be celebrating the winter solstice with unique events and celebrations.

The highlight of the event is the ‘Labyrinth of Light‘, a meditation maze made up of more than 600 pure beeswax candles. There are two set up this year, one at Performance Works on Granville Island and the other at Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown.

These labyrinths invite quiet meditation as a “a self-guided ceremony intended to help release old attachments and envision new possibilities.” It’s a mesmerizing and unique way to spend an evening, idly walking in circles through paths lined by fire. It’ll cost $8 to walk through the labyrinth, but the funds are used to keep the lantern festival running for years to come.

Aside from the Labyrinth of Light, the wider Winter Solstice Lantern Festival is largely a free event. Each of the neighbourhood celebrations run from 6:00pm until 10:00pm, and include processions through the streets, musical performances, lantern making, and many other forms of entertainment.

This year, the festival will take place in three neighbourhoods: Yaletown, Granville Island and Chinatown.

winter solstice lantern festival 2017

Image from ItzaFineDay |

Yaletown Lantern Festival

Taking place in the Yaletown Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews), the Yaletown festival will feature an array of indoor celebrations, 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.

In Yaletown, there will be a secret lantern garden, dancing, live music performances, a lantern workshop, and a labyrinth of light. More information about the Yaletown festivities can be found on the Lantern Festival website.

winter solstice lantern festival 2016

Image courtesy of ItzaFineDay |

Granville Island Lantern Festival

Starting at 6:00 pm, there will be two lantern processions starting from the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and the Granville Island Ocean Artworks, converging at the Water Park on Granville Island.

After the procession, indoor activities will be available from 7:00 – 9:00 pm, with hot chocolate, live music, family dancing, and a labyrinth of light.

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.

winter solstice lantern festival 2017

Image by TOTORORO.RORO | Inside Vancouver Flickr pool

Chinatown Lantern Festival

This year, the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival returns to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden after a yearlong break, transforming the Garden into an illuminated wonderland with hundreds of handmade lanterns, live music, light installations, and aromatic tea.

Throughout the evening, Lan Tung & Bo Peng Duo (traditional Chinese and modern music)Saul Berson Duo (jazz)Twisted Hazel (acoustic folk/fiddle), and Teacup in the Tuba (accordion/clarinet duo) will serenade the dreamlike celebration. Guests can warm up with aromatic tea and participate in a tea ceremony with the Pandora Benevolent Society.

Visitors can celebrate winter solstice by creating their own festive headdresses using organic materials such as ivy and evergreens. More information about the Chinatown festivities can be found on the Lantern Festival website.

winter solstice lantern festival

Photo credit: eych-you-bee-ee-ahr-tee | Flickr

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival Quick Details

When: Thursday, December 21, 2017

Time: Processions start at 6 pm

Where: Yaletown, Granville Island, Chinatown

Tickets: General admission free, with $5 donation gratefully accepted; Labyrinth of Lights tickets available online, $8, with kids under 13 going free.

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