Winter Solstice Lantern Festival

Comments 1 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Celebrate the 21st annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival on December 21st in three Vancouver communities. Presented by the Secret Lantern Society and Artistic Director Naomi Singer, this free family event (with some ticketed attractions) will illuminate the longest night of the year.

Tonight in Vancouver: The 17th Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
Photo credit: Rikki / Julius Reque on Flickr

These are festive celebrations of the human spirit expressed through art and music, enjoy a night of spirited fun with lanterns, fires, singing, drumming, music and dancing.


Join a last minute lantern workshop in any of the three celebration locations. Lanterns can be made in as short as 30 minutes. While supplies last.

Granville Island: A last Minute Lantern workshop will be held on Sunday December 21, 2014 at the False Creek Community Centre (1318 Cartwright St) from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Drop in and make a simple lantern ($10 each) to carry in the procession that leaves at 6:00pm.

Yaletown: Drop into the Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews) and make a simple lantern ($10 each) to carry in the procession that gathers in David Lam Park at 6:30pm.

Chinatown: Drop into the Strathcona Community Centre (601 Keefer St) from 4:00pm to 6:00pm and make a simple lantern ($10 each) to carry in the procession that leaves at 6:00pm.


Granville Island: Meet at 6:00pm at Leg-In-Boot Square, Granville Island Triangle Square, or H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. The 3 processions converge on Granville Island and are greeted by the traditional torch-lit Song Of Welcome by The Vancouver Morris Men. The Carnival Band, Bloco Energia and the Rhythm Spirit Drummers then join forces to lead everyone over to Ron Basford Park where Radiant Heat weave their fiery magic atop the hill and a giant fire sculpture of the rising sun lights the darkest night.

Yaletown: Meet at 6:00pm at Cooper’s Park, Emery Barnes Park, or the Vancouver Aquatic Centre. These three lantern processions are led by the drums of Tege Fo Collective along the seawall as well as through historic Yaletown to converge in David Lam Park where they are welcomed by the traditional English music and dance of the Tiddley Cove Morris Dancers and a spectacular fire performance by The Vancouver Fire Collective.

Chinatown: Meet at 6:00pm at the Strathcona Community Centre and join a lively lantern procession led by the drums of African Crossing through the streets of Strathcona for a magical evening at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (578 Carrall St).

Indoor Performances

Granville Island: After the processions pop into the False Creek Community Centre (1318 Cartwright St) from 7:30pm to 9:30pm for hot chocolate and live music and dancing with Star Child Drum Group, Hot Club of Pluto, Rhythm Spirit Drummers and Odette Slater. Experience the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance and Welch Border Dances by The Vancouver Morris Men, who have been part of this festival for the entire 21 years. Learn about the celestial facts of winter solstice with Community Astronomer Bill Burnyeat in the amazing inflatable Canadian Planetarium, while being serenaded by the award-winning violin of Michael Burnyeat. Look for the roving Mistress of Ceremonies and Ritual Historian Shaughna Born (in the top hat) to tell you the sometimes bloody and epic stories ancient peoples told to explain the loss of the light.

Yaletown: After the Yaletown processions pop into the Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews) from 7:00pm to 10:00pm for a variety of indoor activities starting with the Opening Welcome at 7:00pm by Master of Solstice Ceremonies Ari Lazer. Performers include the Git Hayetsk Dancers, Kira Schaffer of Firebelly Performance Society, Kathleen Forrester, Orkestar Slivovica, Jacky Arrah Yenga and more.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Following the Chinatown procession, meet at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (578 Carrall St) from 6:00pm to 10:00pm to celebrate the Chinese winter solstice, dong zhi, which marks the rebirth of the yang qualities of light and energy. The Garden will be filled with lanterns created by artists Joey Mallett, Yoko Tomita, Jacquie Rolston, Naomi Singer and Secret Lantern Society volunteers. Tickets are $5 per person or $10 for a family (at the door) or online in advance, plus fee. Make your own simple lantern decorated with bird images with artists from the Secret Lantern Society in the Scholar’s Study for $3. Featured performers include the energetic jazz of the Brad Muirhead Quartet, the wild drums of African Crossing and the thrilling rhythms of Uzume Taiko.

Labyrinth of Light

Labyrinth of Light: From 6:00pm to 10:00pm at Performance Works on Granville Island and 6:00pm to 11:00pm at the Roundhouse in Yaletown.

Labyrinth of Light
Photo credit: Jack on Flickr

Created with over 700 pure beeswax candles, the winter solstice labyrinth invites you to warm yourself in a self-guided ceremony intended to help release old attachments and envision new possibilities as the darkest night of the year births a new season. Hosted by Helene Bolduc, with crystal bowl toning by Christine Paton.

Purchase Labyrinth of Light tickets online and select your exact visit times. Everyone who gives a donation or purchases a ticket to one of the labyrinths will receive a solstice button.

Follow the Secret Lantern Society on Twitter and Facebook for more information.

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