The 17th annual Canberra Nara Candle Festival will look a little different this year (thanks a lot, COVID!), but Canberrans are still encouraged to get involved with the new-look proceedings which culminate in Itadakimasu: the Canberra Nara Foodie Weekend.
Itadakimasu – meaning “let’s eat!” in Japanese – will see more than 20 restaurants from casual to fine dining throw open their doors to celebrate Canberra’s relationship with our sister city, the Japanese city of Nara, from Thursday 22 to Sunday 25 October.
Venues participating in the weekend include fine dining restaurants like Raku, Iori and Lazy Su, more casual venues such as Mookie and Soi Noodle Bar, and takeaway outlets like Miki Sushi, Sushi Izu and Gyoza Guy.
Event manager Jayne Simon from Events ACT said it’s a pivot from the usual festival, which have previously seen around 17,000 people turn out to enjoy the festivities at the Canberra Nara Peace Park in Lennox Gardens.
She encouraged Canberrans to either book a table at one of the participating venues or grab some takeaway to eat at home or on a picnic in Lennox Gardens.
“We’re trying to support the economic recovery for Canberra and … encourage bookings,” she said.
“And we’re providing candles. So hopefully while people are dining in over that weekend, they can eat by candlelight and have a taste of the festival in a smaller way.”
The Events ACT website also has information about Canberra’s Japanese community organisations and businesses for people to check out, as well as some activities for enjoying the festival at home – think origami, furoshiki and matcha green tea recipes.
Ms Simon says the ceremonial aspects of the event will proceed this year, though again in a slightly different format; the candle ceremony will be held at the Embassy of Japan as a private event.
While the outdoor candle display won’t light up Lennox Gardens, Canberrans are encouraged to enjoy the outdoors in the Nara Peace Park and ring the Rotary Peace Bell on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 October, 11am-3pm.
This year marks the 27th year of the sister city relationship between Canberra and Nara.
For more details, visit the Events ACT website or read the 8-page feature in this week’s Canberra Weekly magazine.