Winter Solstice Lantern Festival
Where: Five locations around Vancouver, including: Yaletown, Dr. Sun-Yat-Sen Chinese Garden in Chinatown, Creekside Community Centre, Brittania Community Centre, and Granville Island (more details below)
What: This free event promises to be an unforgettable evening of music, stories, dancing, fire and light on the longest night of the year. The Secret Lantern Society, who hosts the event, describes it as a chance to “celebrate the return of the sun with a glowing constellation of lanterns in your neighbourhood and share in the universal spirit of celebration.” The five locations will host slightly different activities and each community has been hard at work preparing lanterns and participating in drumming and fire performance workshops. You can take part in making your own lantern at a “last minute” workshop immediately proceeding the celebration (4 – 6pm), which starts with a processional from the workshop location to the main event. (Lanterns at the workshop cost $10 to make and can be made in as short as 30 minutes.) Two of the locations will feature a Labyrinth of Light, a beautiful maze made of 700 beeswax candles. If you wish to reserve a particular time to enter the labyrinth, see the instructions here. While there is much more information on the Secret Lantern Society site, here’s a rundown of the key events happening at each locaton:
- Britannia Community Centre location, 1661 Napier St., 6 p.m.- 11 p.m.
- Key events: Musical performances and lantern workshop in three houses on Parker St. (by donation, pre-registration recommended), musicians in the processional, dance to Eastern European music, Labyrinth of Light.
- Roundhouse Community Centre location, 181 Roundhouse Mews 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Key events: Lantern workshops, three processionals join the Roundhouse led by drums and fire performers, an astronomer explains the solstice, light/fabric art installations, violin music, new age music, aerial dance, stilt walkers, Gypsy music, English folk dancing, African dancing and the Labyrinth of Light.
- False Creek Community Centre / Granville Island location, 6 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
- Key events: Lantern workshop, three processionals led by drums, giant fire sculpture, singing by the Morris Men, African dance, drum circle, shadow puppet show, jazz and “carnival” music troupes.
- Strathcona Community Centre / Dr. Sun-Yat-Sen Garden location, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Key events: Lantern workshop, processional led by drums, interactive drumming performance, choral singers, Ceilidh music and dance, artistic lanterns filling the garden, a performance of a traditional gong fu tea ceremony, Bonchaz buns baked at the garden.
- Creekside Community Centre location, 1 Athletes Way, 7 p.m.-10 p.m.
- Key events: Lantern workshop, two processionals led by drums and ending in a fire performance, hot chocolate, shadow puppet show, music performance and dance party with hand-crafted instruments made with giant plants.
Separate from the Secret Lantern Society events, but along the same theme, other Winter Solstice Celebrations include:
- West End Community Centre, 870 Denman St. and Coal Harbour Community Centre, 480 Broughton St., 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m.
- Key events: lantern making, musical entertainment and bands, a labyrinth, and a magical Solstice skate in the rink with another fire show on the ice.
Christmas Carol Sing-Along
Where: St Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, 1022 Nelson (at Burrard) (map)
What: Sing traditional Christmas Carols with the family, accompanied by musicians in St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church. There will be some activities for kids as well. Caroling from 7:00 – 8:00, but the event is open from 5:30 – 8:30. Free.
Free Crafts, Stories and Puppets for kids aged 3 – 5
Where: Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver (Children’s Library) (map)
What: “Festive Fun” is hosted for free by the Children’s Library for kids aged 3 – 5. There will be crafts, puppets and stories to help celebrate the season. (Note: If you have older children as well, there is a program for kids aged 5 – 8 from 2:00 – 2:45 on the same day!)
Free Skating (with crafts, treats and visitors) at Britannia Community Centre
Where: Brittania Community Centre 1661 Napier Street (map)
What: If you haven’t gotten in the holiday spirit by now, get into the Christmas mood with a festive free event at the Brit Chill Holiday skate. There will be crafts, treats and a visit from Santa Claus, Frosty and Rudolf.
Don’t forget about these ongoing events:
- Christmas at Canada Place, 10am – 8pm daily, “Christmas Workshop” from 1 – 6pm daily, including free hot chocolate, free face painting, free crafts, a Christmas tree display, “Woodwards Windows” and “SantaGram”, where you can take a photo with a cutout of Santa.
- Christmas in Kerrisdale includes roving musicians, string quartets and visits from Santa and his elf on weekends in December.
- Merry Market Melodies is in Granville Island on weekends in December up til Dec 22. You can also visit with Santa (11am – 3:30pm, not on Dec 19th) and with BeeBop the Clown (11am – 3:30pm, Dec 19th only).
- The Vancouver Chirstmas Market, on daily from 11am – 9pm, with many entertainment options, food and seasonal delights to see.
- Gingerbread Lane – Vote in your favourite gingerbread house on display at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, 655 Burrard St.
- Festival of Trees Take in a great Christmas tree display and view the prize winners at the Four Seasons Hotel & Pacific Centre Mall.
- Carol Ships – Watch a parade of ships decorated with lights float by on False Creek, Inner Harbour, West Van or Port Moody.
- Check out the lights display at St. Paul’s Hospital for free. See more on the Lights of Hope page.