Celebrating Solstice at The Light in Winter

A winter solstice celebration of light, art and food will form a fitting finale to The Light in Winter festival.
Celebrating Solstice at The Light in Winter

Solstice Celebration at The Light in Winter 2011. Image by Fred Kroh. 

For the first time in the eight-year history of The Light in Winter (LIW) festival, the much loved Solstice Celebration event will fall on the actual night of the true winter solstice.

Held over three weeks in June, the LIW festival illuminates Melbourne’s Federation Square in an annual nightly program of free events, performances, exhibitions and performances.


Culminating the festivities in the form of a final Solstice Celebration on Saturday 21 June, LIW artistic director Robyn Archer AO said that everything during the evening, including dance, theatre and food would be free and available to the public to enjoy.

‘For the first time in eight years – this year’s celebrations fall on the day of the true solstice, beginning at 5pm at the campfire, and ending up with a main stage performance.’

‘There are half a dozen artists on the main stage. The shrines will be alive everywhere. There’s a performance called Square of Light, which has been ongoing project for the last three years with choreography by Tony Yap,’ she said.

‘It’s like a fairground. It’s a beautifully, flowing fairground of small offerings of food, hot chocolate by the Chileans, performances, shrines, bands, indigenous storytelling around the campfire – it’s the best three hours you will have in Melbourne at any time,’ she said.

Among the dancing lights of Radiant Lines, the ethereal carousels of Anachron, the Solstice Celebration brings together all of the LIW’s artistic and cultural groups involved in the making of the festival.

Designed by Vicki Couzens and programmed by Rob Bundle, continuously burning campfire Leempeeyt Weeyn’ continues an indigenous tradition and features at the Square as a welcome from traditional owners and hub for a rich program of fireside events across the evening.

More shrines will also appear in Federation Square including the Shrine to Knowledge, an installation by The Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin – Melbourne South East Chapter. A dancer, representing a goddess will perform at the shrine, which honours India for creating the world’s first university. 

Mexican Social and Cultural Association of Victoria (MEXVIC) will present an Altar de los Muertos. Designed around Day of the Dead concepts, the altar will incorporate traditional motifs of flowers, candles and offerings of food, drink and music to honour the lives of those who have passed.

Melbourne’s Burmese community will present a shrine of wooden characters representing the Nats (spirits) of Burma, inspired by the Taungpyone Nats Festival from that region.

Having developed the LIW program across the eight-year history of the festival, Archer was excited to once again see Federation Square come alive for the program.

‘There’s a lot of activity. Apart from the sculptures themselves - there’s a lot of artistic energy. The Light in Winter appears to be a great meeting place for both artists and communities,’ she said. 

The Solstice Celebration is a free event and will be held at Federation Square on Saturday 21 June from 5pm to 8pm.

The Light in Winter 2014 is a free, three-week festival celebration of art, light and enlightenment.

For more information, visit The Light in Winter website.

Troy Nankervis

Monday 26 May, 2014

About the author

Troy Nankervis is an ArtsHub journalist from Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @troynankervis