Kensington Festival of Lights

Tomorrow night — Saturday the 21st — is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. What better way to celebrate a day that’s mostly darkness than with a Festival of Lights?

The Festival, now in its 14th year, is a parade with a twist. The people watching the parade walk through the streets while many of the performers are on the sidewalk, street corners and rooftops on the parade route. The procession will be accompanioed by the more mobile performers: lantern-bearers, jugglers, clowns, stilt walkers and Samba Squad (a percussion band of at least a dozen samba drummers) and wind their way through streets to the Kensington Market neighbourhood. Along the way, parade-goers will see a musical Nativity scene, a torch-lit Chanukah choir, a Kwaanza celebration, the legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman, Raven Steals the Sun, La Befana (an Italian legend about the Winter Witch, a sort of Santa Claus-like figure), a Solstice story told through giant puppets, a giant fire-sculptue, a traditional Mummers’ play and much more.

The parade will depart from St.-Stephens-in-the-Fields Church (365 College Street West, 3 blocks west of Spadina) at 5:45 p.m. and work its way to its final destination, the park in Kensington Market near the south end of Augusta Street (the one at the corner of Augusta and Denison). I’ll probably join the parade and add a little accordion noise to the fun.

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