October 22nd, 2020

Winter Light Festival to bring energy to dark days

By Mabell, Dave on November 30, 2019.

What’s your response? Embrace the cold weather, or escape it?

That’s a real-life choice for southern Albertans right now, with the launch of this year’s Winter Light Festival at Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden.

Light festivals are held year-round in Japan, organizers point out. But they’re particularly popular in winter, bringing visitors energy and hope despite the winter darkness.

This year’s festival, the fourth, was scheduled to open Friday and again this evening, then from Thursday to Saturday weekly until Christmas, with additional openings on Dec. 22, 23 and 31.

Hours will be 6 to 9 p.m., but the garden will remain closed on a day when evening temperatures fall below -25 C.

Hot chocolate, snacks and horse-drawn wagon rides will be part of the experience as well. But don’t expect Christmas lights, garden officials say – they’re not a part of the winter festival in Japan.

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Or, Lethbridge residents can head downtown to enjoy colourful reminders of summer in our part of the world.

From now until Dec. 20, the University of Lethbridge’s fine arts faculty will be presenting an expansive exhibition of art works created this summer at its unique Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage, near Nanton.

A carefully nurtured garden property near the foothills, the centre has become a magnet for artists from Lethbridge and other southern Alberta communities. (It’s also become a popular location for outdoor weddings!)

This year, exciting images by no fewer than 44 local and Alberta artists are part of the no-charge show, encompassing everything from acrylics, oil paints and prints to three-dimensional work, fabric creations and a birds-eye view into the centre’s oversized camera obscura.

They’re all on view in the main floor gallery at the James Foster Penny Building on 5 Street South, with an opening reception this afternoon, 3 to 5 p.m. But the exhibition will continue weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., until Dec. 20.

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Still inside, another annual event in Lethbridge will showcase more than 500 nativity displays. Presented at the Latter-day Saints chapel next to the Enmax Centre, it will welcome guests at no charge from Dec. 12 to 15.

Hours on the Thursday and Friday will be 1 to 9 p.m., then 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday. Community choirs have also been invited to perform, with concerts set for 7 p.m. on Dec. 13, then 3 and 7 p.m. on the remaining two days.

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Another seasonal favourite, “The Messiah” will be presented Dec. 15 and 16, with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor Marvin Dueck welcoming a choir and soloists.

Soprano Janet Youngdahl, mezzo-soprano Erinn Evdokimoff-Roberts, tenor Jason Ragan and bass Adam Brousseau will be backed by the Chinook Singers. Performances are set for 3 p.m. on the Sunday, 7:30 p.m. on Monday at Southminster United Church, with tickets available online at http://www.lethbridgesymphony.org.

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And we have plenty of last-minute suggestions:

Tonight, director Joanne Collier and Vox Musica will present a “Celebration for the Season” at Southminster United with guest artists the Aeris Brass as directed by Keith Griffoen and the Incanto Singers, directed by Kathy Matkin-Clapton. The concert is set for 7:30 p.m., with tickets at the door.

Also tonight, the university-based Global Drums will perform at 7:30 p.m. in University Theatre.

A Christmas classic, “The Nutcracker” will be staged twice today by youthful students of the Calgary-based Jeunesse Classic Ballet Society, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the Yates.

And Lethbridge Musical Theatre will stage another Broadway Open Mic today, 3 to 5 p.m. at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, open to all ages with no cover charge.

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Next weekend, the month’s “First Friday” event at Casa will present students of the Young Artists Music Academy in the U of L music conservatory at 12:15 p.m.; bring a bag lunch.

Next Friday and Saturday, students at Chinook High School will offer “Munsch at Play” in the school’s media centre, with tickets at the door.

And the annual Mayor’s Concert, featuring both the Gold and Silver Bands, will be presented next Saturday by the Lethbridge Community Band at Southminster United at 7 p.m. The Agnes Davidson School Choir will be featured guests; tickets at the door.

Next Saturday as well, Victory Church is presenting Christmas with the Family, a no-charge event from 5 to 9 p.m. Features in and outside the church – east on Highway 3 – will include wagon rides, hot chocolate, photos with Santa and seasonal carols.

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