July 17th, 2024

Nikka Yuko lights festival celebrates the seasons

By Lethbridge Herald on November 29, 2023.

Colours illuminate the grounds as guests roam the pathways during last year’s lights festival at the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden. Herald file photo by Ry Clarke

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Let the celebration begin!

Starting today members of the community will be able enjoy the annual Nikka Yuko Winter Light Festival and explore this year’s theme of ‘Celebration of the Seasons’ which has brought a few changes to the light display many have admired for the last eight years. 

Michelle Day Miles, executive director the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, recently spoke to reporters about the Winter Light Festival and said organizers are transforming the garden into four seasons –  Haru (spring), Natsu (summer), Aki (fall), and Fuyu (winter). 

“The change to the display this year is to reflect the beauty of our diverse community as the garden showcases various exquisiteness throughout the seasons. So it’s bringing that love of diversity into the garden through the winter lights,” said Day Miles. 

She said to accomplish that, the Garden has installed more than 170,000 lights, three light tunnels throughout the garden, and have added a few different light displays which include parasols and Japanese lanterns. 

Day Miles explained change was based on the desire to keep things fresh for the garden’s visitors so they continue to come back every year. 

“We felt like it’s time for change, it’s time to take the experience and do things differently. We did a winter light survey last year and we know that people are looking at this as a regular tradition, but we want to make sure that when people come back, they have a positive visitor experience plus something new or something different to see as well,” said Day Miles. 

With close to 31,000 visitors to the garden during last year’s Winter Light Festival, Day Miles said they are hoping to have between a three to five per cent increase in attendance this year. 

“The Winter Light Festival is always weather dependent, but we encourage people to dress up warm. When there are mild temperatures, we encourage people to come see us. One of the things that we always take pride in, and awareness of, is that it is affordable, it’s family fun, it’s family- friendly,” said Day Miles. 

She said this year the garden is making it easier for people to purchase tickets by teaming up with multiple local businesses, in addition to the online ticket purchase option and purchases made at the Bunka Centre. 

“We have numerous packages. We have special events that I would encourage people to look online to see what night is the best for them. We have things like Taiko night, Minyo dancers on Saturday, we have jazz music on certain Thursdays, so it’s depending on what your interest is look at the calendar and plan your experience around it,” said Day Miles. 

When it comes to sharing the stage with the Agri-food Hub and Trade Centre’s light festival ‘Glow,’ Day Miles said they are working together to offer members of the community more options to enjoy the winter season.

“We’re happy to collaborate with the Agri-food Hub who are doing their ‘Glow’ experience. We’re actually supporting each other through cross-promotions of discounted admission rates for each of us. We both believe that we need to lift up and do some more winter tourism products and developments, and experiences for our community. I think that this collaboration is absolutely wonderful and they’re two different experiences. And I think that’s what also makes it special,” said Day Miles. 

The Winter Light Festival will run from today until Feb. 24, from 4-9 p.m. with last entry at 8:30 p.m. each night the festival runs. 

Through the month of December the festival will run Thursday to Sunday, in January the festival will run Thursday to Saturday, and in February the festival will run only Fridays and Saturdays.

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