Lanterns on the Lagoon is an bi-annual, one-day festival in Tumut, New South Wales celebrating community, environment, reflection, sustainable art and sculpture. Established in 2011 it is set in a park by the Tumut River. It features music, entertainment, food and other family-focused activities. It incorporates a sculpture competition, painting and music workshops, an artisan market and dancing demonstrations. It culminates at dusk with the release of hand-decorated lanterns onto the park lagoon and sculptures are illuminated as the evening begins. The Festival is held to coincide with the Spring Equinox.
Lanterns on the Lagoon and Sculptures in the Park has become a permanent fixture on the Tumut region’s calendar since its inception in 2011. It is held every two years on the Saturday closest to the Spring Equinox (in late September). It is a celebration of the season, rejuvenation and new life, of community and sustainability and of culture and creativity. Lanterns is a community based, not for profit and volunteer run festival.
There are four main elements to this festival; an outdoor sculpture competition, live music and entertainment, artisan market stalls and multicultural food and drink stalls as well as the lanterns themselves, which are lit and set afloat on the lagoon as the sun sets. The festival is held at the Pioneer Park, on the banks of the Tumut River.
The sculpture completion receives entries from a range of local and diverse artists, as well as community groups, schools and centres. Artworks must be made from reused, recycled or repurposed materials with a strong focus on sustainability. The artworks are situated throughout the parklands between the lagoon and river, allowing the audience to meander through and relate to the artworks in a site specific and communal way. Artists are encouraged to light their artworks so that as day turns to evening, the sculptures take on a new and dynamic nature.
At dusk, lanterns which have been made from recyclable milk bottles and decorated by families and children throughout the day, are lit and launched on to the lagoon. Workshops are held throughout the year to maintain and build new lanterns for the event every year. Attendees should be on the lookout for old favourites, such as the large lotus flower and new and colourful lanterns depicting flowers, people and animals. Last year’s feature lanterns were a celebration of people and place, including local Indigenous motifs and totems.
Artisan market stalls and live entertainment and music give this joyous and vibrant festival a further dimension of active community participation, as attendees wander through the stalls and picnic on the shoreline of the lagoon, as the parklands come to life with light, colour and creativity around them.