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The longest night of the year is about to hit; the Winter Solstice. You could hide away from it, crank up the heater and duck under the covers. Or you could embrace this increasingly popular celebration. It is all about getting over the hump, acknowledging the return of the light and the sprint towards spring. Here comes the sun, well at least in a few more months.
Collingwood Children's Farm
At the well loved Collingwood Children's Farm the entertainment starts at 4pm with a lantern parade at dusk (~ 5.45pm). Children can carry their home made lanterns along the path to the bonfire which is then lit to the sounds of live music and the antics of spectacular fire twirlers. Rug up to keep warm but help is at hand with hot food, mulled wine and piping hot coffee. There is a giant lantern, food stalls, a bar, wandering minstrels and drummers.
The Belgrave Lantern Parade is a community event to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Music in the street starts at 4pm and the lantern parade starts from Hayes Car Park at 5:30pm, making its way along Blacksmiths Way and then onto the main street. Visitors can view the parade, which is a spectacular scene of a myriad of bobbing lights, along the main street between Terry's Avenue and Hayes Car Park. There is also community singing. If you go early you can engage in lantern making workshops and get your hands on some hot soup. Click here for more details on how to join the parade.
Opposite Flinders Street Station there will be a beautiful lantern dance of a thousand twinkling lights and Guerrilla Lighting, an innovative arts company, which light up public spaces. Victorian school children have been busy making lanterns for the night and these will be handed out from the main stage. Then there will be a lighting extravaganza where the audience is guided to wave them en mass. Live entertainment will be on between 5pm and 8pm and there are 500 enamel mugs for visitors, which can then be taken to one of Fed Square's eateries and filled up with a delicious range of steaming soups – all free.
At CERES there is a return to some of the pagan roots of the winter solstice celebrations. You can celebrate the return of the light from the darkness with traditional Yule rituals such as feasting, spiral dance and fire sculpture. CERES bar will be open and there will be market stalls and an acoustic band. You can bring your own healthy plate of food to share. At 7.55pm twin bagpipes will lead the ritual procession. After there is a ritual blessing and the lighting of the communal Yule Log.There will be also be cups of hot chai as well as hot spiced mead, the original alcoholic drink of the prehistoric pagans.
CERES, Cnr Roberts and Stewart Streets Brunswick East.
Gates Open 6.00pm to 11.00pm
If you live near Eltham, Montsalvat is holding its inaugural bonfire and lantern parade. You have to imagine the spectacular setting of light up against the gothic darkness of this medieval styled artists' colony. Certainly one of the most interesting places to visit in the region. Soup and warm drinks available on the night. Make a lantern and join the parade!
Some of these events require children to bring their own homemade lantern. There are plenty of instructions for these online and lantern making can all be part of the fun and anticipation of the evening. Great school holiday activity.