Celebrate the end of December darkness at the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival, Dec 21

winter solstice lantern festival 2017

Image courtesy of ItzaFineDay | Flickr.com

On these rainy, cold and dark days, it seems like the darkness will never end. We wake up in the dark and leave work or school in the dark. It’s no coincidence, the days have been growing shorter until December 21, the shortest day of the year.

If all that darkness is starting to get you down, the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival is a warm, glowing light at the end of this seemingly endless dark tunnel. This unique event, coinciding with the shortest day of the year on December 21st, celebrates the return of light and warmth as we move away from darkness and towards the brighter days of spring.

winter solstice lantern festival 2018

Image from ItzaFineDay | Flickr.com

On the evening of Friday, December 21, 2018, at two separate locations around the city, crowds will converge to celebrate light. Here’s what’s in store for the festival on Dec. 21:

Labyrinth of Light

The highlight of the festival 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.

Lantern Processions

To start off each event at Granville Island and Yaletown, there will be lantern processions beginning at 6:00pm. Crowds carrying handmade paper lanterns will converge for a procession of light.  After winding their way along city streets and seawalls, they’ll descend on local parks and community centres for singing, drumming, bonfires and a toast to the season.

For Granville Island: The processions from Leg-In-Boot Square and H.R. MacMillan Space Centre begin at 6:00 PM

For Yaletown: A procession leaves The Gathering Place (609 Helmcken St.) at 6:00 PM and heads to the Roundhouse.

winter solstice lantern festival 2018

Image courtesy of ItzaFineDay | Flickr.com

Granville Island Events

Aside from the Labyrinth of Light, the wider Winter Solstice Lantern Festival is largely a free event. At Granville Island, festivities will be held from 6pm – 10pm and after the initial lantern procession, you’re invited to warm up inside with hot chocolate and snacks and a wonderful array of diverse performances and music.

There will also be a captivating fire finale at the end of the festival, so make sure you stick around until 9:30pm.

Yaletown Events

On Dec. 21 the Gathering Place will host a day of celebrations with free food, live music, last-minute lantern making and other activities. At 6:00 PM there will be a procession to Emery Barnes Park, continuing directly to the Roundhouse for indoor activities.

After the procession, warm up inside the Roundhouse with hot chocolate and snacks and a wonderful array of diverse performances and music. You are also invited to sit beneath the gorgeous Tree of Life lantern amid giant flowers as the musicians of Naad take you on a sound journey with instruments from around the world, and vocal quartet Salalaul surrounds you with secret songs from the Baltic region.

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival Quick Details

When: Friday, December 21, 2018

Time: Processions start at 6 pm

Where: Yaletown and Granville Island

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

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