The 25th anniversary of the Illuminares Lantern Festival is happening this Saturday at Trout Lake and it will also be the last. Since 1988, the non-profit Public Dreams Society has hosted the festival (along with other events like the Parade of Lost Souls) but according to artistic director Matthew Bissett, it’s just no longer feasible.
“The sad fact is that we are in financial difficulty,” Bissett told me over the phone. They’re not trying to end the event and he called this step more of a “hibernation”. However, they need to find a way to clear their deficit and find new ways of producing these events.
Illuminares is an iconic part of the cultural landscape in Vancouver, bringing together the Trout Lake community and all those who visit. Despite hitting a milestone this year, he expects a smaller “quietly beautiful” festival on Saturday. “It’s about the procession, the movement of all the people at the same time with light, that is kind of the glorious thing and the main point of the Illuminares Festival.”
“Come enjoy the park as a park. Celebrate Trout Lake and John Hendry Park. Bring a picnic, bring an instrument, play a game, enjoy the grass, the tress, the sky, summer.”
Neighbours lead park clean-ups years ago, helping the area grow into the friendly community-oriented place it is now, and the event has always been about fostering that sense of community. “Part of our goal is to get back to the original idea behind Illuminares, when it was community members in the Trout Lake area that were coming to the park to do a lantern procession around Trout Lake as a way of claiming the green space as their own.”
Bissett emphasized that Illuminares has also always been about participation. “You build the lantern, you bring a light source, and the real beauty is everyone engaging in the collective experience.”
While the human energy of the first Illuminares rippled out through the Trout Lake area communities, the light energy sped upward towards the stars – passing Alpha Centauri after five years, zooming past Sirius, Procyon and Altair, until just this summer reaching the star Vega, twenty-five light years from Earth. This summer, visit the shores of Trout Lake and take a journey back through time with Public Dreams, navigating our history using these stars as your signposts!
For those wanting to get involved with Illuminares on Saturday, you can contact Public Dreams about becoming a volunteer. The event runs from 6:00pm to 10:30pm on Saturday, July 20, 2013 at Trout Lake and John Hendry Park. Follow Public Dreams on Facebook and Twitter to learn more about this event and more importantly to find out ways you can support their efforts.