This post is unusual because it does not discuss of my typical field of “expertise” which is food. Instead, we diverge from what Frost described as the well-trodden path to engage in a topic that delightful without being delicious.
For the past thirty-five years, Ottawa has celebrated winter by organising a Winterlude festival. The organisers of the festivals plan a variety of winter activity, the most famous of which is without a doubt, the skating on the Rideau Canal. The Canal, as the locals call it, is an “infinitesimal” body of water (when compared to the Great Lakes, or longer and bigger rivers) but has a historic importance. It is also a cultural landmark, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every winter, people anxiously wait for the Canal to freeze and for the ice to be thick enough to skate along all of its 7.8 kilometres, making it the world’s longest skating rink.
The ice sculptures are another popular event, where the artistry of the sculptors is breathtakingly admired in various forms and shapes, some that seem to defy the laws of physics.
This year, the Winterlude had certain activities that highlighted the 50th anniversary of the Korean-Canadian Diplomatic Relations. The Jinju lanterns were one of these activities. These lanterns are part of the famous Jinju Namgang Yudeung festival which takes places every fall on the banks of the Nam river in the city of Jinju. This festival is meant to commemorate the loss of the lives of the 70,000 Korean soldiers during the Japanese invasion in the 16th century. Today, people can purchase a wish lantern and send it floating on the river. Sadly, the frozen Canal was not amenable to this activity. However, Confederation Park was lit up by several of these lanterns. Many of these lanterns depicted Korean symbols (tiger), Korean artefacts (the incense burner) or traditional activities (the children sledding and flying their kites). However the highlight of the festival was the tunnel made of some 27,000 orange and blue lanterns. The soft light of each bobbing in the wind, gave the impression of being in some strange underwater experience. The chill of the night could not diminish the beauty of the Jinju Lanterns. However, don’t let my words alone convince you. The pictures below should be loquacious enough and worth more than a thousand words. Let them show you the magic of the lanterns that night.