11 December 2013

Luminaria at the Devonian Gardens - Is the Popular Event Worth the Trip?

Sunday evening a friend and I drove out to Devon to the Devonian Botanic Garden to partake of the Luminaria event/festival.  The parking was predicted to be filled to capacity so they had a shuttle bus running continuously. The gates opened at 5:00 pm.  Since we arrived just before 5:30 pm, we managed to find a spot near the entrance,  thanks to those with glowing batons who directed traffic, and walked in from there.   The fee for the event was $10.95 per person.  So consider that and the 1/2 hour drive on a very cold winter day.

Luminaria finds its origins in Mexico and Latin America, roughly 1945-1950.  Luminaria, according to dictionary.com, refers to "any lamp or lantern displayed during a festival."  Wikipedia has a good article on the origins at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luminaria.

Above, the entrance to the garden is through a passageway between buildings.  The building on the right houses a store while the one on the left is where you purchase admission.
The following photos were taken that evening at the Kurimoto Japanese Garden.  Pathways were lit with white waxed paper bags weighted down with sand in the bottom and illuminated with a small candle.  Spotlights drew attention to the few Japanese features that are in this garden while the Ozawa Pavillion was lit from within. These were the only sources of light but it was sufficient.  A nice touch was spotlights within massed plantings of trees as they lit them beautifully, accenting the trunks and limbs on this winter's eve.


Beneath a pagoda a group of carollers sang some beautiful Christmas numbers.

 Above, the bell tower.

I noticed three different groupings of ice sculptures in the gardens.  
Above a Great Horned Owl and another owl sit together.  A little further on in this post 
you will see the wolves also sculpted from ice.  I didn't get a photo of the single bear.

Oh, I can't tell you how wonderful it was to have these little bonfires burning at strategic points 
along the path.  Hot apple cider was given to anyone who wanted a little inner warmth.  

What I call warming stations basically amounts to a fire pit, like the one above, 
sometimes with a few chairs round about where one can sit to warm up on a cold night.  
Most of the stations also offered hot cider.  Visitors were asked to bring their own mugs 
but disposable cups were available for those who didn't bring their own.

To the right in the photo above is one of five stone lanterns located in the garden.  Ahead on the path is a warming station complete with bonfire.  At this particular station one could light a candle for a loved one who has passed on.  The volunteers manning the warming areas, the light a candle area, and those directing traffic were all very welcoming and friendly.  I asked one young man who was pouring the cider for visitors how he was faring in the cold.  He tugged on his overcoat and smiled saying he was hot blooded and this night's cold temperatures didn't bother him at all.  I don't think everyone is as warm-blooded as he.  

One of many "lanterns" that lit the paths.

Above you can see the backs of the "magical" Snow Sprites.  This characters flitted about the paths 
making little squeaky noises.  Below, the Sprites are approaching and even posed for a photo.

Above and below, the Ozawa Pavillion is lit from within.

 One of the structures within the garden that was highlighted with spotlights.

 So beautiful.

 The skies hosted a smattering of clouds and you could see a thumbnail of a moon overhead but no stars.  The garden is far enough from our city and from the town of Devon for the view of the skies not to be impeded with light pollution but tonight's sky didn't reveal the pinprick of stars overhead.

Ice Sculptures of a pair of wolves.

Above. the pavilion in the background.

The Bell Tower sits atop a small hill.  

I have to say we were a bit disappointed we couldn't ring the bell but it was drifted in and roped off.  I'd love to take a trip out here during each of the four seasons to take photos of the different stages of the garden.  With the small hills, a waterfall and pond in the landscape there are some lovely vistas and vantage points.

The only topiaried evergreen we spotted during our visit.

We spent just over an hour walking the path and taking photos.  Having stopped twice for hot apple cider (we brought our own mugs), we were sufficiently warm.  Mind you we did dress for the weather.  The night was a cold negative twenty (-20.4 C overnight) Celsius but with a long parka,   toques, scarves, gloves and good winter boots we fared just fine.

Following our walk we visited the craft show in an adjacent building before heading out.  I took a couple photos of the wreaths but apparently I didn't save those.  All in all it was worth going out for but I think once is sufficient for this blogger.  When I consider the cost and the drive, to me it's worth the one trip out to Devon.  There's really nothing for the children though.  This event is better suited to the adult.  If you want to bundle them up for the trip next year, be my guest, but know ahead of time that it is a fair bit of walking with a few outdoor warming stations and apple cider.  Luminaria is held at the garden over a weekend in December each year.  

Note:  all photos in this post were taken either by myself or my friend Kim.

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