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Polka Dot Dragon Lantern Festival returns with new venue

After taking a one-year hiatus due to COVID, the Polka Dot Dragon Lantern Festival is returning this weekend, but with a new venue.

Where previous festivals have been held at the Taghum Beach, this year’s event will be held at Lakeside Park this Sunday from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

“We are sad to leave Taghum, as it is such a beautiful location,” artistic director, Myra Rasmussen said in a news release. “But the festival has grown so much that the parking situation at Taghum was difficult and was causing hazards. We are excited to bring the festival inside the city limits of Nelson, and hope it helps to make it more accessible as well.”

The outdoor community arts festival focused on inspiring creativity and bringing warmth and light to the community in winter. Myra Rasmussen initiated the first festival in 2014, inspired by a desire to have more reasons to come together to make and appreciate art in an accessible way, during a slow time of year.

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“Winter isn’t a very convenient time for an outdoor festival, but I find January and February are a real lull for me in my life and it’s a great time to get together and make art,” Rasmussen says. “It’s a good excuse to get outside and see people and do something in the winter.”

You will be able to join a socially distanced lantern walk, and enjoy snow sculptures and lantern installations made by local artists. Moving Mosaic Samba Band will provide music and lead the parade around the beach. The festival is free, but donations are welcomed.  

Usually the festival offers several lantern making workshops leading up to the event. This year, with so many uncertainties about public health restrictions, they opted to offer lantern making kits instead.

“I was sad not to do the workshops this year, as they are one of my favourite parts of the festival,” says Rasmussen. “But one good thing about the kits is that more classrooms are able to participate. I have already given group kits to nearly 20 classrooms, which we wouldn’t be able to do if we were only offering workshops.”

There are also individual kits available to the public for free, which can be picked up at Cowan’s office supplies or Touchstones Nelson. Group kits are available by contacting [email protected].

One other difference this year is around fire regulations. Where previous festivals had bonfires, that won’t be happening this year, although Rasmussen says the fire department is allowing candles so long as they are in glass jars or other non-flammable containers. In general the festival will feel the same.

Rasmussen says this will also be the last year that they operate under the auspices of the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute, because they have created their own non-profit society.

(Photo by Roy Ramos/Polka Dot Dragon Lantern Festival)
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