Secret Lantern Society celebrates winter solstice in Williamsburg

winter solstice celebration with secret lantern society
Families brought their own lanterns to celebrate the 2020 winter solstice at Domino Park.
Photo by Dean Moses

Nightcrawlers around Brooklyn can rejoice, as Tuesday marks the day with the shortest period of daylight this year — and both those who relish the darkness and those who can’t wait for a little more sun can commemorate the Winter Solstice with an extravagant light display set up by the Secret Lantern Society at Williamsburg’s Domino Park.

The occasion may be solemn for those missing the glistening sun, but even those suffering from the wintertime blues have cause to come out, as days in the Northern Hemisphere will henceforth get longer until next year’s season of changing leaves and puffy overcoats. 

While it may be a while before the longer days are truly noticeable, sunset is already a few minutes later than it was last week, and those sun-shiny minutes are precious to many in an icy city winter.

spiral labyrinth at winter solstice festival hosted by secret lantern society
Brooklynites can think back on the past year and the one to come as they traverse the candlelit labyrinth at the Secret Lantern Society’s second annual Winter Solstice Festival. Photo courtesy of Two Trees

Debra Sheldon, the Society’s founder, launched the event last year, after she found inspiration by a similar organization in Vancouver, and wanted to bring the tradition to Brooklyn at the end of a particularly dark year defined by a difficult pandemic. 

“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,” she told Brooklyn Paper sister publication amNewYork Metro. “We all share the darkest night, we all share this change of the season, so it is something to connect us.”

The first annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival allowed participants moments of reflection.Photo by Dean Moses

Attendees can walk the meditative candlelit labyrinth, which “is generally considered a metaphor for our own life experiences, representing a journey into our own center, and then back out again into the world,” according to the Secret Lantern Society website.

Organizers also invited guests to follow along with lantern-making videos online, if they haven’t attended one of the society’s lantern-making workshops, and bring along their own little light to the celebration.

A bonfire and sing-a-long, lead by Brooklyn musician Kevin Nathaniel, brings a little extra light and warmth to the darkest evening on the Brooklyn waterfront before the event wraps up and a new season of cold weather and a little more light blows in.

RSVP for tonight’s festival here.