The Friends of Victoria Park (FOVP) have announced that the sixteenth Victoria Park Lantern Festival will be returning to the park on Saturday July 29th 2017 with the theme “Reignite the Light.”
The Victoria Park Lantern Festival was founded in 1998 in response to the closure of the park’s pool. The Festival is one of several successful initiatives by FOVP to bring attention to the park and help rebuild the vibrant community that formed around the pool.
The Festival offers public lantern building workshops throughout the summer, where people can build their own lanterns to carry in the Festival’s parade. The Festival also preserves and re-uses lanterns from previous years, some of which are as old as the festival.
This year’s celebrations will begin in the park at 2:00pm with live music, face painting, a kid’s game zone, and a last-minute lantern-making workshop. There will a canteen service and barbeque, as well as other snacks and sweet treats available until 8:00pm in the lower park.
The first phase of the Festival will wrap up at sunset with a performance by the Neighbourhood Strays belly-dancing troupe.
At dusk the Scruncheons Percussion Ensemble will lead a parade of festival-goers carrying handmade lanterns up the steep slope to the top of the park. Many lanterns are made from mason jars decorated with coloured-paper and varnished with glue.
The larger, more sculptural lanterns have wood or wire frames covered in varnished paper. Some Festival favourites include a UFO lantern, a Hibernia lantern, and a huge dragon lantern. The parade has a magical ritualistic feel, it’s full of little kids up past their bedtime, carefully ferrying their precious creations up the hill.
As festival goers settle in on the grassy banks of the hill, volunteers light a lantern installation composed of hundreds of lanterns. Blue lanterns called ‘river jars’ are placed in a valley in the hill where an open river used to flow through the park.
The river has been covered over, but still trickles underneath the park, gathering in a chamber beneath the baseball diamond. The ‘river jars’ are one example of how the festival highlights the park’s unique physical landscape.
The evening will wrap up with a dramatic fire and light show in the baseball diamond at the bottom of the hill. The show will feature fire jugglers, fire swallowers, and aerial acrobatics, performed by artists from the St. John’s Juggling Club, Cirque’letics, the Spinsters, and Wonderbolt Circus.
Organizers say, “This year’s show promises to be bigger and brighter than ever before!”
This year’s theme is a reference to the fact that the Festival will be blazing brighter after its brief hiatus, but it also works as metaphor for the Festival’s mission to re-kindle a sense of community in Victoria Park.
The Festival is free and open to people of all ages. Anyone with accessibility concerns can contact the organizers at this toll free number: 1-844-517-1376