Families celebrate the first Winter Solstice Lantern Festival and labyrinth of light at Domino Park

Families brought their own lanterns to celebrate the winter solstice at Domino Park.
Photo by Dean Moses

For one night, Brooklyn’s Domino Park was transformed into a maze illuminated by hundreds of glowing lanterns in hopes of being the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Two interlocking spirals of electronic candles made up the first Winter Solstice Lantern Festival and Labyrinth of Light on Dec 21. Families were encouraged to bring their own candles and follow the incandescent pathway between the handmade lanterns leading to the display’s center point before following an identical route out to where freshly made hot chocolate was waiting for them.

Under the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge, children and adults alike marveled at the intricate network of lanterns. They also got a chance to gaze upon the “Christmas Star,” the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the sky, a once-ever-few-centuries rarity.

The night was illuminated by the city lights and electronic candles. Photo by Dean Moses

Artistic director Debra Sheldon, founder of the Secret Lantern Society NYC, expressed the importance of coming together on the darkest day of the year on what has been a rather dark 2020.

“I have been waiting to do this for a really long time but this year I thought it would be so important to bring love and the gift of bringing people together around something we all share. We all share the darkest night, we all share this change of the season, so it is something to connect us,” Sheldon told amNewYork Metro.

Children walked along the lantern labyrinth. Photo by Dean Moses

The coiled lanterns represent the mathematical Fibonacci Sequence, what Sheldon sees as the basis of all life. She also expressed the poetic beauty of entering the radiant web from the north and exiting at the south on a night when Saturn and Jupiter align to the southwest.

Through this symbolic walkthrough on what marked the shortest day of the year, Secret Lantern Society NYC hoped that this meditative ritual could help heal the pain wrought from the global COVID-19 pandemic and a tumultuous election by hosting a point in which all the community regardless of faith or political opinion could converge upon in a fun, safe environment.

For Maryann Rekuc, a resident of Williamsburg, this is exactly what she needed to both cleanse the year and herself.

Maryann Rekuc, like many others, has a hard year and took a moment to reflect. Photo by Dean Moses
Attendees showed their gratitude for their loved ones while celebrating the darkest day of winter. Photo by Dean Moses

“I came to the solstice because I have gone through quite the year. I have come to terms with 2020 and this seemed like the perfect way to cap it off. I walked through with my candle repeating my intentions for the new year. With the quarantine and relationships ending and everything that has happened, this year has really redefined what is important and coming out of the year I feel better than going into it,” Rekuc said.

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival lasted from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and was accompanied by gentle music throughout provided by the Sound Bath.

The Winter Solstice Lantern Festival allowed participants moments of reflection. Photo by Dean Moses
Children were excited to join in the revelry. Photo by Dean Moses
After walking the labyrinth, visitors were given free hot chocolate and hot cider. Photo by Dean Moses
Pets were allowed to join the celebration too. Photo by Dean Moses

More from around NYC