WHAT IS THE LANTERN FESTIVAL?
The Lantern Festival is a public project. Victoria Park is the canvas for the festival, and the festival highlights the historical and natural features of the park, including the annual lighting of the buried Bennett’s Brook with a river of glowing glass jar lanterns and the installation of a spectacular paper lantern display among the majestic trees of the upper park.
A day-long celebration, the Lantern Festival occurs on the last Saturday in July and concludes with an amazing fire and light show performance enjoyed by the many spectators who sit and stand along the natural amphitheater-like upper hill of the Park. The sheer number of people who attend the festival and enjoy this vital urban space after dusk is astounding.
The Lantern Festival is an initiative of the Friends of Victoria Park (FOVP), a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization comprised of concerned citizens and community members. Formed in 1998, the FOVP came together in May of that year as a result of the closure of the swimming pool in Victoria Park. Through the summer of 1998, the Friends worked closely with the city on a number of Park projects, including overseeing a successful summer day camp program and the installation of new playground equipment (a donation from Saturn and Hickman Motors).
The goal of Friends of Victoria Park is to ensure that Victoria Park retains its historical place as a vibrant, safe and enjoyable environment for all residents and visitors, and the Lantern Festival is a celebration of that.
ST. JOHN’S BEST KEPT FESTIVAL SECRET
Now considered one of the most colourful and multicultural gatherings in St. John’s, the Lantern Festival begins with months of grassroots planning: steering committee meetings; partner and volunteer recruitment; train the trainer sessions; fundraising; and staff hiring; not to mention the public lantern-building workshops, special events and outreach activities in the summer weeks leading up to Festival Day. Every effort has been made to keep our events accessible to everyone so admission is free or by suggested donation.
THE LANTERN INSTALLATION
The Lantern Installation is a key part of the festival’s magical appeal. The steep topography of the upper park is the perfect canvas on which to display the creative efforts of the community’s lantern building. The installation varies from year to year, and each year there is something new. The installation is one of the most logistically complicated parts of the festival and is largely a volunteer-driven effort.
PUTTING THE ART IN THE COMMUNITY & THE COMMUNITY IN ART
The Victoria Park Lantern Festival is a spectacular, all-ages celebration of community in St. John’s historic West End. A participatory and volunteer-driven event, our annual Festival takes place on the Saturday of the last full weekend in July following a couple of months of public lantern-building workshops.
Our full-day event that starts at 2PM on the last Saturday of July with community booths, a Kids Zone, BBQ with popcorn and cotton candy, a yoga class, a soundstage featuring local performers, and a jar lantern-making workshop.
At around 8PM, The Neighbour Hood Strays belly dancers perform on the soundstage and lead a procession of those in attendance to the top of the hill, where – at dusk – participants are treated to spectacular glowing lantern installation and a tremendous light and fire show accompanied by the Scruncheons Percussion ensemble.