7th annual Firelight Lantern Festival holding free workshops

IN THE ZONE (back left) Krista Dalby works on a sign for the Firelight Lantern Festival at a free workshop while (front left) Shannon Kleist and (front right) Tina Mcewen from Community Living Belleville helped make lanterns with the children at Picton Town Hall earlier this month. The Firelight Lantern Festival is Nov. 9, starting at Benson Park at 6 p.m. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)




Leading up to the 7th annual Firelight Lantern Festival on Sat,. Nov. 9th a total of seven workshops are being held throughout the county for anyone to come make and create their own lanterns.

This idea was started back in 2013 when Krista Dalby and Susanne Larner who had  experienced lantern festivals in Toronto and Vancouver and gave them the inspiration to create their own version of the festival in Prince Edward County.

“The arts are a very powerful tool to bring people together,” expressed Dalby. “I think this is something that’s really needed that people crave which is the ability to come together and connect with other people. It’s really great to offer this accessible arts program to the community.”

As it cost money to run workshops, in the past they’ve had a minimum charge of $10 per lantern with a pay-what-you-can policy as well to remain accessible.

This year, thanks to a grant from The Jack and Ruby Lockyer Ward Fund and support from their partners, the Baxter Arts Centre as well as the Ameliasburgh, Athol, Picton and Wellington Recreation Committees, it was possible for the organizers to offer all of this years workshops for free. However donations are gratefully accepted at all of their workshops.

FESTIVAL READY A festive finished lantern on display ready to be walked down Main St. on Nov. 9th. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

“People can drop in anytime and make a lantern,” stated Dalby. “The idea is people create their own lanterns and then bring them on Nov. 9th to Benson Park which is the gathering spot for our parade.”

This weekend marks the last set of workshop the committee have set up is at the Baxter Art Centre. This workshop will be a costume making workshop and is new this year and is included in the free workshops.

“This costume making workshop should be really fun as we always tell people costumes are encouraged at the lantern festival,” Dalby said. “We have a different theme every year for the festival, this year it’s called ‘The Time Machine’ so people can think about what era they want to travel to, or what sort of era in history they want to be inspired by for their costume or lantern design, whatever makes you feel fun and festive.”

The festival usually brings in upwards of 700 people who join in the procession down main street to the Crystal Palace, the group will be accompanied by a band.

This years entertainment is Spencer Evans and the Goat Steppers, who will also join in on the parade. They’ll also have a fire-spinning performance happening before the parade at 6 p.m. in Benson Park.

“The idea of it happening at this time of year,” expressed Dalby. “Is the days are getting shorter, so we get together and create our own light to help sustain us through the winter which we will carry with us.”

Also at the Crystal Palace will be a huge art installation on display with many different artists involved as well as some surprise performances.

“To get together and whether your coming to a workshop to make your own lantern or if your just showing up to the parade as a participant, it’s community building in an artistic fashion,” Dalby expressed. “It’s a very earnest expression of togetherness and coming together as a community that’s very non commercial, accessible and multigenerational which really allows us a way to all take part on a kind of equal footing.”

The workshops are pretty adaptable to any age or skill level and is a great activity for kids, adults, families, individuals, seniors and everyone alike.

Workshop dates and locations:

Nov. 1st 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Baxter Arts Centre – Lantern Making
Nov. 2nd 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. – Baxter Arts Centre – Lantern Making
Nov. 3rd 1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. – Baxter Arts Centre – Costume Making

For more information and hours of the workshops please visit firelight-workshops