Light up the night at Winter Solstice Celebration

Arts Whistler hosts festival of lights on Thursday (Dec. 21)

The holidays are a time for magical lights and Arts Whistler is going to kick off the festivities for the season this Thursday (Dec. 21) with the Canada 150 Winter Solstice Celebration.

Starting at 5 p.m. near the Olympic Rings on the Village Stroll, this free event is encouraging everyone to bring a lantern, flashlight, headlamp, glow stick, or night light and follow performers on stilts covered in LED lights as they parade up the Village Stroll, through the woods of Florence Petersen Park, and back to the Olympic Plaza. After that, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., there will be hot chocolate, maple taffy, popcorn and family entertainment similar to the popular Family Après program. There will also be fire spinners, giant robots and live music by the Funky Snow Monkeys, whose reggae and ska-inspired tunes will evoke the bright warm memories of sun-filled summer days.

“There will be performers that are going to be giant robots,” said Arts Whistler’s programs and events manager Andrea Mueller. “They have LED lit up costumes. We also have people using LED hoops, and we are light mapping the Olympic Rings.”

On top of all that light, there will be several light installations as Arts Whistler aims to bring out as much light as possible to this event. Throughout the year, over 900 Whistler students have participated in lantern workshops and they will be joining in the parade and festivities. So will secondary students.

“We did some work with the high school and they created separate pieces that will be put together to create a light sculpture,” said Mueller.

A key component to the light parade is for it to be extraordinary, but environmental and safe, which means no fire or airborne materials that will become an environmental hazard. Many of the participants will be bringing battery-lit lanterns they have made or decorated themselves through various Arts Whistler-run workshops.

“We’ve had quite a number of lantern making workshops that people could partake in and we have a last-minute one that people can drop in,” said Mueller.

The last-minute lantern decorating activity is on Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Maury Young Arts Centre. It’s free and all materials will be provided, though Arts Whistler encourages you to bring materials like pressed flowers, pom poms or leaves to add your own creative embellishments to your lantern. To light the lantern, you can bring your own battery-operated tea light or purchase one of the limited supply of mini battery-operated lights through Arts Whistler for $2.

To encourage environmental stewardship, all the lanterns that have been made are intended to be used for more than just the evening of the celebration.

“The lanterns that we make are a part of people’s homes and they are going to be bringing them out for the parade,” said Mueller, who emphasized that disposable airborne lanterns create environmental waste, while the handheld ones made through Arts Whistler can return to homes and continue being a part of the décor.

Although the event happens on one day, its purpose is to continue in the Canada 150 celebrations. “We decided that everyone was throwing summer events so we would do something slightly different,” said Mueller. “We wanted to bring some light to the shortest day of the year. We’ve done some Festival of Lights-style installations over the past few years and we’ve really wanted to do something a bit larger.”

For more information on how you can celebrate and participate in the largest light event of the year, visit artswhistler.com.

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