Skip to content

Light up the Night in Champlain Heights – Dec 17, 2023

On Sunday, Dec 17, 2023 we celebrated our third annual Light up the Night in Champlain Heights event!

This year we had 11 local artists collaborating to create beautiful lanterns for the festival. A month prior to the event, Lead Artist, Joshua Ralph, led an artist collaboration, where he taught lantern-building techniques and shared supplies with the partnering artists. Then, the artists took their supplies and ideas home and created amazing lanterns. The theme was “Forms of Kindness” and lantern creations included: a nesting owl, a curious coyote, a flying cormorant, a glowing ukulele, a flowering lotus and more.

On the day of the lantern festival, 13 volunteers gathered early at 3pm to help with lantern set-up. In addition to the new artist-created lanterns, we had many jar lanterns, nature and globe lanterns from last year to display. This year the lanterns were displayed not only within our Douglas Fir Teaching Garden, but along a stretch of the Red Alder Trail that highlighted our recently planted Native Food Forest.

At 6:30pm, approximately 125 locals gathered for the start of our lantern procession! Joshua led the way with our bright green Free the Fern lantern, followed by the Carnival Band. They moved through the Douglas Fir Teaching Garden and north up the Red Alder Trail, circling around what was transformed into “rainbow island”. Free the Fern Executive Director, Grace Nombrado, was there to meet the procession decked out in rainbow, glowing wings. She flew around the “rainbow island” which as adorned with rainbow coloured jar & butterfly lanterns. Free the Fern Board member, Jeannine, made an appearance as a golden sun, joining in the revelry.

Then the procession looped down the Red Alder Trail, traveling past our recently planted Native Food Forest. In the midst of the edible shrubs and fruiting trees, there was Free the Fern director and artist, Anne Banner, beautifully adorned in a handcrafted owl costume. The Carnival Band stopped briefly to perform just south of the Native Food Forest on a grassy slope. Spectators were invited to join in the music and dance surrounded by the beauty of nature. The Carnival Band, led by Tim Sars, brilliantly wove the words “Free the Fern” into the improvised song lyrics.

Moving back up the trail, the procession concluded back up the Douglas Fir Teaching Garden. The Carnival Band kept the festivities going with some rousing music, including a couple holiday favourites like “Jingle Bells”. Revelers were invited to enjoy some hot chocolate and cookies (baked by many local volunteers). Approximately 110 people enjoyed hot chocolate, with some returning to refill their compostable cups for seconds! We made sure to offer treats that included dairy-free and gluten-free options, so that all could enjoy.

Following the event, we had 8 volunteers help with clean-up, taking down the lanterns from the trail and packing them in boxes for storage. We were surprised to be able to have approximately 100 lanterns packed up within 30 minutes of the event concluding!

Thank you to the amazing partner artist for creating lanterns: Alicia Brown, Andrea Papineau, Anne Banner, Catherine Munn, Genesis Morales, Joe Boyd, Joshua Ralph, Kiki Nombrado, Rayne Burning, Svitlana Tetokina, and Westley Nombrado.

Thank you to the incredible volunteers for helping with set-up, serving hot chocolate, and clean-up: Abigail, Andrea, Barbara, Doris, Ellie, Erin, Genevieve, Kiki, Lesley, Maddy, Maximo, Rita, Robin, and Tom.

Thanks to Park People for providing funding to make this event possible!

3 thoughts on “Light up the Night in Champlain Heights – Dec 17, 2023”

  1. It was great to be part of this wonderful community event and see so many locals enjoying themselves. Great pictures of all the beautiful lanterns and lights!!

    1. Thanks for your kind words Robin. I am glad you had a great time! Thank you so much for your support with the hot chocolate table. It truly took a community effort to make it possible!

  2. Free the Fern has grown into something so magical! I am thankful to have been a part of it all since day one. To be able to contribute and enjoy this growing community endeavour has been an enriching experience. I am looking forward to watering even bigger areas and making more art! I am grateful to Grace’s brilliant leadership and look forward to working alongside other like minded, community oriented folks in the year ahead!

Comments are closed.