Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2010 Kensington Market Winter Solstice

Flames rise high as the large structure burns at Alexandra Park after the parade. 

The 21st annual Kensington Market Winter Solstice happens tonite (Dec 21, 2010) starting at 6:30pm at Oxford at Augusta. The parade finishes later at Alexandra Park around 8:00pm. Come for some fire, light and fun. The lantern festival, or festival of lights, has had a number of name changes but it continues to celebrate the shortest day/longest night of the year during the Winter Solstice.
A Firebreather gets the bonfire started on the artful fake fire.

The streets filled up fast with people gathering for the parade in Kensington Market. Large groups of drummers get a strong beat going and the intersection quickly becomes blocked with revelers moving to the drums. Later the parade and the action at the park is hard to witness because of the lack of space and the amount of people jammed together at the baseball diamond.

Flame jugglers fill the ball diamond with whirling fire as a full moon looks down on the fun.

“Celebrate the return of light on the longest, darkest night! The Kensington Market Winter Solstice is a participatory lantern parade. Make a lantern, bang a drum, wear a costume, carry a puppet …. This is a people’s celebration.” You can buy lanterns at the Community Centre for $10 and help light the way.
The event is organized by the community art group Red Pepper Spectacle Arts and started in 1987.
Jam packed intersection at Oxford and Augusta.

See my YouTube video and more pics of the night (and a link to the 2009 event) after the jump.

Laterns for sale hang at the Community Centre.
Some musicians head towards the entrance of Kensington Market.
Large puppets on sticks fill the parade route with outstretched hands
Flame juggler before the main combustion begins. 
The large paper mache fire burns hard and fast and soon is but ashes on the melted snow.

I always like to think of this festival as the Kensington Market version of Burning Man, but because of the cold, with no nudity.

You can see my pictures of the 2009 celebration here.

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