ACT News

Canberra lit up by 2000 candles to celebrate Nara Festival

Kites, calligraphy and thousands of candles brightened the ACT's Nara Gardens on Saturday afternoon, as Canberra celebrated its close ties with its Japanese sister city Nara.

Ten of thousands of Canberrans gathered beside the lake for a day of activities followed by the spectacular lighting of candles in the evening for the 21st consecutive year.

Some of the 2000 candles lit for the Nara Candle Festival at the Nara Peace Park.
Some of the 2000 candles lit for the Nara Candle Festival at the Nara Peace Park. Photo: Graham Tidy

About 2000 candles were lit across the Nara Gardens, mirroring Nara's own Tokae festival, from 6.30pm.

Canberra-Nara Sister City Committee chairwoman Narelle Hargreaves said several thousand people attended during the day and the crowd grew even further in the evening.

Candles at the Nara Candle Festival.
Candles at the Nara Candle Festival. Photo: Graham Tidy

"You can walk around this park as I'm doing at this moment and you see people from all sorts of cultures just enjoying the delightful park and eating Japanese food," she said.

"Then they'll all gather around about dusk, they light up all the candles and it is just like fairyland."

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Ms Hargreaves said the event  was symbolic of the significant bond between Canberra and its sister city.

"It's all because of Nara being the ancient capital of Japan and Canberra being the fairly new capital [of Australia]," she said.

Events ACT marketing and communications manager Adelina La Vita said it was a much loved event in the Canberra social calendar.

"We get a lot of families coming down because there's a lot of activities for children, things like kite flying, drumming workshops, lantern making and some of the boys like to try out sumo wrestling," she said.

"[It] needs no advertising really because people have it on their calender."