That headline is only slightly misleading in order to alert you to Kensington’s annual Festival of Lights, celebrating the winter Solstice tomorrow night. But we can assure you that there will be giant puppets and there will be fire, if not necessarily at the same time.
Starting at 6:00 p.m, revelers will gather at the corner of Augusta and College and begin a procession down Augusta, east onto Baldwin, down Kensington Avenue, west on Dundas and finally up Augusta again to Bellevue Park. Once there, everyone will gather around the wading pool to watch flame eaters set fire to a papier-mâché sculpture representing Old Man Winter. It’s not a bad idea to bring a lantern or an easily-portable musical instrument (we recommend tambourines, always) to really get into the festivities.
Unlike the significantly lamer Santa Claus Parade, this pagan hootenanny doesn’t require setting up lawn chairs at the crack of dawn; anyone who shows up will have an equal opportunity to see the performers and actually be a part of the parade itself. And with its dusk start-time, it’s just as kid-friendly as the SCP and about ten times more fun and less commercial (and its website is way less scary).
The parade has grown significantly in its 19 years, but it remains refreshingly free of corporate sponsors (not to mention Rudolph, Frosty, and either the big SC or JC). And it can be a great way to escape from the stress of cookie exchanges, the hell of present-shopping, and the inevitable financial ruin of playing too much dreidel. Plus, in a city as multicultural and diverse as Toronto, Solstice is the one wintertime event that no one can weasel their way out of. No matter what your religion (or lack thereof), tomorrow is the shortest day of the year for everyone, and there probably isn’t a nicer place to spend it in this city than Kensington Market.
Photo by Liz Badaloo from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.