Firelight Lantern Festival celebrates 10 year anniversary this weekend

Illuminating A fire thrower performs at the 2019 Firelight Lantern Festival organized by the Department of Illumination. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette file photo)




The Department of Illumination is back after two years online with their 10th annual special anniversary edition of The Firelight Lantern Festival at the Crystal Palace, for the first time over two evenings of arts and music.

A cherished Prince Edward County tradition since 2013, this years theme is The Enchanted Forest and will take place November 4 and 5.

“It’s kind of surreal that we’ve reached the 10 year mark, I remember very clearly that first year,” expressed Krista Dalby, Artistic Director of the Department of Illumination. “In 2013 we thought lets try a lantern festival and see if everyone is interested in this and we knew after that first year things were really going to take off.”

On Friday, Nov. 4 the Firelight Lantern Festival will be a 19+ evening featuring Kingston’s unique and experimental folkestra The Gertrudes amongst food, drink, dancing, art installations and interactive performances. Doors open at 7pm.

“We’ve expanded the event to two nights this year,” Dalby stated. “So Friday night for the first time we are doing an adults only evening. There is sometimes the perception that what we do is for children only but no this is definitely for adults. The truth is most of our audience is adults, so Friday night is an adults only evening, we have a wonderful band from Kingston coming called The Gertrudes, their a very large, eclectic band, they call themselves a folkestra.”

Saturday, Nov. 5 sees the return of the Firelight Lantern Festival’s beloved Lantern Parade in an all-ages event starting in Benson Park. The parade will make its way down Main Street to the Crystal Palace, where Toronto’s hip-hop brass band Bangerz Brass will take the MainStage. Meeting at Benson park at 5:30pm, parade to begin 6pm sharp.

“Both the evenings are licensed so we have County Cider doing the bar for us and we have Kaleidoscope catering bringing their food truck,” said Dalby. “As in past years there is also beautiful art installations inside the Crystal Palace.”

The Firelight Lantern Festival is known for its epic illuminated art installations in the beautiful Crystal Palace and this year is no different. Lead artists Nella Casson, Krista Dalby, Chrissy Poitras, Tim Snyder and Kyle Topping will be responding to the year’s ‘The Enchanted Forest’ theme and animate the site with giant lantern puppets.

Both evenings will be filled with an eclectic array of performances from multiformat puppet masters Imagicario, shadow puppetry by Birdbone Theatre, plus Peterborough circus performers, and festival favourites, Trellis Arts. 

DJ Ombudsman will be providing the beats to keep the dance floor moving. Festival-goers are also invited to dress up in whatever wild and wonderful costume they wish, especially if it’s illuminated! 

“We do encourage people to dress up, and whatever makes you feel fun and festive,” Dalby stated. “We do have a theme this year which is the Enchanted Forest, some people may choose to use this as inspiration but honestly people have come dressed as dinosaurs, as spiderman, whatever you want to wear that makes you feel good we just encourage you to do that. A really great thing to do is to try and light yourself up somehow, there is lots of inexpensive led lighting available at any hardware store or dollar store and to put them on your hat, around your shoulders or around your waist or whatever you want. It’s really fun to join everybody in this wonderful evening of dress-up, but its really whatever you feel comfortable wearing, its up to you.”

The Department of Illumination invites their audiences to play an active role in the lantern festival by taking part in their community lantern-making workshops, running October 21-30, 2022. These will be held in the Department of Illumination studio in the lower level of The Armoury in Picton. Attendees are provided with all the materials and instruction necessary to make a lantern for just $10 per lantern. 

“The festival has just grown and grown over the years and people have really learned to look forward to it, to embrace it, to prepare for it and really just being able to celebrate in sort of an expanded festival for year 10 feels really significant after the past two years have been so challenging,” expressed Dalby to The Gazette. “We did do stuff both years but this is kind of back to our normal format again and being aloud to have a parade, being aloud to have workshops, being aloud to gather indoors all of these things feel really special after not being able to do that for two years and it really feels like a triumph. I’m really proud of our resilience that we’ve been able to stick it out this long, and we really hope everybody will come and celebrate this special anniversary with us this year.”

The Department of Illumination is a registered not-for-profit organization which was founded in 2013 by a group of artists in Prince Edward County. They aim to bring joy and creativity to the community by producing festivals, workshops, and other artistic events. This company of artists weaves creativity into the fabric of their community, bringing people together for shared experiences of wonder and beauty. They strive to be a cultural leader, demonstrating excellence and innovation in rural arts.

Tickets are now on sale through the Department of Illuminations website. People are encouraged to purchase tickets before the event to help move people along when entering.

“Tickets are now on sale through our website,” Dalby said. “There will be tickets available at the door but we really encourage people to buy tickets in advance, it just really helps when you have hundreds of people trying to enter a building at the same time, really helpful if people already have their tickets it just moves things along much quicker.”

For more information or to buy tickets please visit