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Magical Firelight Lantern Festival shines through the dark of night

Story and photos by Olivia Timm
The Firelight Lantern Festival lit up a chilly November night in downtown Picton Saturday.

The theme for this year’s event was “Vacationland” and a sea of families and friends – more than 600 people – walked the Picton Fairgrounds, decked out in lights and colourful outfits, to enjoy the magical experience.

All of the event’s installations were held outdoors this year with unique experiences stretching across the space, including light projections and decorations.

Children and adults alike were entertained by interactive visual projections by Dylin North while live music was performed by the group Culture Reject. The Culture Reject project is based in Toronto/Meaford and their project “Everyone a Satellite” is a playful exploration of simple technologies, inviting strangers to write with light on the glowing bodies of the band.

The ninth annual festival featured new art installations including Rosalie Maheux’s PARASITE show. The local artist promoted her work, which was created during the art residency program at the Prince Edward County Art Council in January of this year.

Maheux said the installation mocks the superficiality of the typical resort decor and uses physical forms borrowed from iconic resort structures.

“I wanted to build a resort because I was interested in how resorts exploit a space or landscape that isn’t their own. They appropriate a lot of cultural objects and styles like architecture and aesthetic,” she said.

She said when the Department of Illumination reached out to see if she’d like to celebrate her work at this year’s event, she was thrilled.


Along with the light installations were two sparkly stilt walkers, one being the well-known Milé Murtanovski, wandering around the space.

The show was one of many local art festivals that received financial support from the province of Ontario this fall, receiving $18,755 to cover costs.

Krista Dalby, co-founder of the event and Artistic Director of the Department of Illumination, said the team was thrilled with the event turnout.

“The sold-out event exceeded out expectations. It was so beautiful. We loved seeing so many people out enjoying themselves,” she said.

Other local artists Nella Casson, Susanne Larner, Chrissy Poitras and Kyle Topping contributed to the event, with crowd-gathering circus-style performances by Trellis Arts & Entertainment; music by DJ Ombudsman; site animation by Shatterbox Theatre and tasty treats and warm beverages by Kaleidoscope food truck.

“The Firelight Lantern Festival draws inspiration from traditions of many lantern festivals throughout the world which use light as a symbol to bring people together,” the festival website states. “As fall ends and the darkness of winter descends upon us, it is easy to feel isolated, especially living in a rural community. Our festival acts as a beacon to encourage our residents, both adults and children, to conjure their own light, bringing it into their hearts and homes to sustain them through the darkness.”

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