Canberra’s Nara Candle Festival is usually held in the Canberra Nara Peace Park in Lennox Gardens every October, but, as with everything, 2020 will be different.
The Japanese-themed gardens have iconic cherry blossom trees and two large stone lanterns – a gift to Canberra from the people of Nara to celebrate our sister city relationship.
Official since 1993, Canberra’s proud connection to Nara began with the post-Second World War work of Marist priest, Father Tony Glynn.
Father Glynn was so highly regarded by the people of Nara that his 1994 death led a group of citizens to honour his life and work with a documentary film and a named memorial.
His work laid the foundations for future connections between the cities, including a variety of exchanges between schools, cultural and sporting groups, Rotary clubs, and professional associations, before an official proclamation in 1993 declared us family forever.
Throughout the year, the people of Nara celebrate the spectacular grass-burning ceremony at Mt Wakakusa, water-drawing ceremony at Nigatsudo Hall, lantern-lighting festival at Kasuga Grand Shrine and Nara’s own candle ceremony – which, like good younger sisters, we have emulated.
It’s in the spirit of this relationship that we push through the challenges of 2020 to embrace this cultural exchange.
For a fun, Nara-inspired weekend, tap into the cool older sister vibe at home by adding cherry blossoms or lilies, and settle down with the family or some alone time with creative candle making.
Finish your evening with food delivery or take out from one of the 20 Japanese restaurants participating in this years’ foodie alternative to the candle festival: Itadakimasu – meaning let’s eat!
Make your own candles
Canberra candle maker Natasha Guy has owned Soy Chic Candles for three years. Her store was based at the Kingston Old Bus Depot Markets until its COVID-related closure in March pushed her online. Now, she even delivers!
Natasha says candle making is simple in theory – it’s just wax plus fragrance. But unless you’re getting a pre-assembled kit, there’s a lot of testing involved to make sure you have the correct wick for the size of the jar and add a safe amount of fragrance to the wax, to make it bind correctly.
“In the end, candles are dangerous if made incorrectly, so if someone who hasn’t had a lot of experience making them wants to give it a go, I would advise go with a ready-made kit first to keep it as safe as possible,” she says.
Nara inspired fun