Organizers of a popular Saanich festival that’s been dazzling attendees for over a decade have decided to pull the plug this year, citing a lack of event space and a shortage of staff and volunteers.
The 12th annual Autumn Lantern Festival, scheduled to return to the Gordon Head Recreation Centre this Saturday, Sept. 17, has been cancelled, according to the District of Saanich.
In an emailed statement, the district says the cancellation follows “a variety of factors” beyond its control, including the loss of event space and challenges with securing necessary equipment and services.
“Additionally, staff and volunteer shortages contributed to the final decision that we would not have the capacity to host safely and successfully what has become such a large community event,” the district told CHEK News.
A celebration of Asian cultures, the festival was previously called the Moon Festival Lantern Celebration before organizers changed its name this year to reflect its new event date one week after the full moon.
“The title change reflected the ‘shifted spotlight’ from the full moon itself to the celebration of the coming of autumn and the changing of the seasons, recognized by many cultures and communities,” the district said.
Through the years, the festival has been a hit. In 2018, for example, an estimated 3,000 people showed up to watch cultural dances, eat traditional food and walk in a lantern procession after dusk.
“We understand the community’s disappointment with the cancellation of this loved event in the Gordon Head neighbourhood and look forward to welcoming the community to future events,” the district added.