Light Night

Victoria Park Lantern Festival

The idea is simple: Cut strips of bamboo, glue them together, attach bits of tissue paper and put a tea light candle inside.

When it’s done right, the result can be beautiful. And when done in mass it can light up an entire park in St. John’s on a warm summer night.

The Victoria Park Lantern Festival, now in its sixth year, brings together all kinds of people, young and old, from surrounding communities to build paper lanterns and witness Victoria Park come to life at night.

If you head down to the park in the afternoon you will be able to catch performances by The Kids Players theatre troupe, music from prog spazz-rockers Elimination Dance and alt folk singer Thom Coombes or get a chance to make a last-minute glass jar lantern in the old pool house.

Make sure to stay for the evening as a river of blue jars light up down the hill in the middle of the park (representing the real river that once flowed through the park, but was filled in by the city years ago). Then paper lanterns are lit and a huge procession is led through the park by percussion group the Scruncheons while fire jugglers and spinners perform at the bottom of this installation. The crowd watches in awe or joins in the Scruncheon’s march up the hill.

This year’s festival will focus on the theme of social activism – as seen within the design of some lanterns and by the booths of a number of local activist groups in the park.

While the music and dancing can be fun, the lanterns are the real draw of the event. I look forward to sitting back and looking at all the lights – from lanterns made during the first festival to ones made just last week by children in the park’s youth program.

“I’m excited just to see all our work and all the little steps come together, to see the park filled with shining lanterns,” Kate Dunbar, the event coordinator, told me.

If you’ve been worrying about fire hazards there’s no need. There will be a large number of volunteers along with members of the fire department positioned around the installation ready for any unexpected mishap.

It’s a summer festival not to be missed, and the most inclusive one this city has.

– Dan Murray

The Sixth Annual Victoria Park Lantern Festival will take place on Saturday, July 29 (Raindate: Sunday, July 30). It begins at 5:00PM and ends at 11:00PM. Free and open to all ages.