Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Illuminaris Festival in Vancouver

Saturday night I walked over to Commercial and Broadway with my good friend Jenny from Victoria and met some other friends at a restaurant before heading out to the Illuminaris Festival at Trout Lake (12th Ave. & Commercial).

Illuminaris is widely known in Vancouver as a festival of lanterns, where a procession of artists circle the lake with their handmade lighting devices. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw & heard.

It all began for me with a phalanx of boys dancing to the pulsating beats of a percussion orchestra, all the while twirling batons of fire, much to the impressively large crowd's delight. Once I met back up with my friends, I had temporarily lost them in the smoky haze, we ambled around the park appreciating the workmanship that went into so many of the lanterns.

There were ballerinas, dragons, submarines, planes, ladybugs, rabbits, and all manner of regularly-shaped lanterns with exquisite lines and designs. At one point, my friend looked over at me and asked, somewhat incredulously, "How can people be so creative?" This from an architect/interior designer.

That pretty much summed up the evening. I was constantly awed by the commitment to art that so many people demonstrated through their work. For many long time supporters though, the festival itself has become a bit too big and commercialized, as evidenced by the need for concession stands and a tiny village of porta-potties. But, for a first-time reveler, it was a rare treat to enjoy such fantastic artwork outdoors and I sure didn't mind pressing against the thousands of people pushing their way around the lake. It definitely beats the drunken throngs watching the fireworks at Kits Beach or English Bay.