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Canberra Nara Candle Festival 2015

Home > Canberra > Free | Festivals | Family | Cultural Events | Community Events
by Sue W (subscribe)
Lover of exploring, family, food and fun!
Calligraphy, Cuisine, Culture & Candles
When our family (new to Canberra at the time) visited last year's Nara Candle Festival, we were impressed by the popularity of the event. With cars parked for miles up side roads and on any spare patch of grass, there was an exciting festival feeling in the air.

Over 15,000 people turned up for last years event - showing how much Canberra loves the Japanese culture and this festival, now in it's 12th year.

Canberra Nara Festival 2015, Peace Park, Lennox Gardens, ACT
Source: EventsACT website.

A great night out for the family, there will be ikebana and drumming displays, Japanese food stalls, martial arts demonstrations, kite flying, origami making, calligraphy, lantern making and other Japanese cultural events. Starting at 4:30pm, it allows families to get there early and leave early if they need to.

Canberra Nara Festival 2015, Lennox park, peace park
Source: EventsACT website.

Source: EventsACT website.

With the lighting of 2,000 candles at dusk (approx.7:30pm) by the volunteers, it is a night of celebration of Canberra's sister city relationship with Nara in Japan, going strong after 21 years.

The Canberra Nara Candle Festival is based upon a much larger candle festival, known as the Nara 'Tokae', first held in Nara in 1999. This spectacular festival in Nara displays tens of thousands of candles lighting up Nara's parks and heritage sites.

Tokae comes from the Japanese word 'to-ka', describing a shape resembling flower petals which sometimes forms around the wick when a candle is lit, which is believed to represent good fortune.

Nara Tokae Festival in Japan, 2014. One of the many buildings lit up was the Nara National Museum, pictured. Source:, Canberra Nara Candle festival 2015, Lennox Gardens, Peace Park
Canberra's Nara Candle Festival, 2014. Source: EventsACT website.

With a large variety of Japanese food stalls around the outside of the park, you are spoilt for choice for dinner options. Last year the sushi stalls in particular were popular, however there are many other delicious food stalls to choose from. With a stage set up for live music, it is an enjoyable way to eat your dinner on the grass and listen to the cultural music display.

Canberra Nara Candle Festival 2015
Source: EventsACT website.

There will be also be a free shuttle running from the surrounding carparks in the Parliamentary triangle, running from 4:00pm to 9:30pm every 10-15 minutes. See here for locations.

The popularity of this festival is growing every year and the 12th annual Canberra Nara Candle festival is set to be even more successful.

The night is a beautiful way for kids and the community to learn about the Japanese culture, and join in on the many activities planned for the night.

Our family will be there amongst the crowds again this year and enjoying the Japanese cultural events on offer, such as...

Nara Candle Festival, Canberra
The Mochi-tsuki or rice pounding demonstration where members of the public are able to sample the soft rice cakes that are made, courtesy of the Embassy of Japan tent. Source: Embassy of Japan website.

Enjoy the night, Canberra!
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Why? Celebrate the Japanese culture at this popular event.
When: Saturday 24th of October, 4:30pm - 9pm.
Where: Canberra Nara Peace Park & Lennox Gardens
Cost: Free.
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