May 24th, 2024

Winter Lights Festival set to open next week

By Lethbridge Herald on November 17, 2021.

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden opened for a sneak peek of their Winter Lights Festival before next week’s public opening set for Nov. 26. Herald photo by Al Beeber

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden opened up for a sneak peek of the Winter Lights Festival, which is set to run from Nov. 26 until Jan. 30.

With about 170,000 lights gracing trees, shrubs and garden features, the Garden is a true spectacle. From a replica of Mount Fuji to several igloos, and a kaleidoscope of colours, Nikka Yuko gardeners have created a masterpiece. Tuesday’s snowfall accentuated the beauty of their work.

Melanie Berdusco, marketing and events manager for the garden, said while the festival officially closes on Jan. 30, there is hope to keep it going through the Brier at the Enmax Centre which opens March 5.

The festival, soon starting its sixth year, has become a winter tradition for visitors from Lethbridge and beyond.

In 2020, the festival attracted almost 20,000 visitors, an attendance increase of 17.6 per cent from 2019 despite COVID-19 restrictions.

The opening of the new Bunka Centre has staff hoping those numbers will improve. The public will get their first look at the centre on the opening night of the festival.

All visitors to the festival will be required to wear masks unless they are eating or drinking. But proof of vaccination won’t have to be shown by guests attending the outdoor festival. They will have their QR code read upon entering the Bunka Centre.

“For the general admission for the Winter Lights Festival  you are not required to show proof of vaccination because it is outdoors” and there are capacity limits, said Berdusco.

“For all of our indoor private events that we will be hosting over the winter then they’ll be part of the exemption program,” she said.

“It’s really exciting. This is our sixth annual Winter Light Festival and its even more exciting this year because it’s coinciding with the opening of our Bunka Centre,” said Berdusco before media was allowed to explore the garden. Invited guests were given a tour of the centre as well as the garden after a formal presentation by executive director Michelle Day. Also speaking to the audience was architect Elizabeth Songer whose Lethbridge firm designed the Bunka Centre.

“It looks amazing and we’re really excited to welcome people back again, said Berdusco.

Tours will include a maximum of 150 people per half hour tour, she said

“It’s a four-acre garden so that gives you lots of room to spread out. We did similar capacity limits last year and that gave people a really nice experience. You could feel like you had a little more private experience here.”

Tickets will be sold online for specific times with a maximum of 150 guests allowed per time slot. Prospective visitors are being asked to purchase their tickets in advance which they can do by clicking a link on the garden website at

Time slots are every half hour between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Various admission prices and packages are available. Adult regular admission for those 17 and up is $12.50. Child package and admission for those 6-12 is $11. A student package and admission, for those aged 12-16 and students with ID is also $11.

A friendship package, which includes a minimum of two admissions to a maximum of four is $12. Each ticket includes one admission, one matcha maple cookie and one drink – coffee, tea or water.

A family package costing $11 each includes a minimum of five admissions up to a maximum of 10. Each package also includes one admission, one matcha maple cookie and one drink.

The garden has launched a new online ticketing and mobile ordering system this year that is supposed to make ordering tickets and refreshments easier. The system is in partnership with Canadian company Moduurn.

Because the Bunka Centre is going to be open year-round, walkers around Henderson Lake will be able to order a coffee or tea from the phone and have it ready by the time they get to the centre.

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