Canberra Nara Candle Festival

27 Oct

Packed. Cold. Massive food lines.

These are my first impressions of the Canberra Nara Candle Festival.

We arrive just before the 7.30pm lighting of the candles and official opening of the festival by Canberra’s Chief Minister. I’m oblivious but a small child on someone’s shoulders screams yells out, “Red hair! Red hair! RED HAIR!” as we walk into the festival. Cute.

Lighting of candles at the Canberra Nara Candle Festival

Lighting of candles at the Canberra Nara Candle Festival

We’ve stumbled through the crowd right when they’re doing the official candle lighting ceremony and Boyfriend is starving, so we make our way towards the food. It’s packed towards the stage. The lines for the food are humungous.

Sooo many people

Sooo many people


Despite the wait, and despite the cold chill, I join the lines. I’ve got my eye on this.

Green tea ice cream!

Green tea ice cream!

And I'm not disappointed

And I’m not disappointed

As we wait in line, Boyfriend also gets us delicious meat gyoza from a neighbouring stand (with a much smaller line). It’s amazing.

After a quick picnic, we brave the crowd again to get a good look at the lights.




After 20 minutes of pictures (and I agree, I don’t get many good ones) we’re still raving about the gyoza, so we head back to the food and the enormous lines. We skip the crowds by walking along the lake behind the festival and come across:

… wishing trees


… and lantern making.


The long lines we dreaded are finished – there’s just a handful of people in all the lines (except, now, the ice cream line). There’s a 10 (more like 15) minute wait (!) for more gyoza, so we make enjoy okonomiyaki before getting a bumper serving of gyoza.

Okonomiyaki noms

Okonomiyaki noms

We’re in and out in just over an hour. I’m not sure what the food is like earlier in the day, but I expect it’s just as bad. If you’re a family, come early and bring a picnic. If you’re without children, come later and take your time. If you’re at all claustrophobic, come later, too (it’s extremely popular, even though it’s less than 10 degrees).

I expect a few more lanterns and a bit more creativity, but I like what I see (there’s a very loud and catchy drum performance on stage as we leave, too). It also seems to be one of Canberra’s most consistent festivals – reading previous years’ reviews, very little has changed.

Date: Saturday, 26 October 2013

Cost: Free ($4 each for icecream, $4 each for our first serving of gyoza ($5 for our second, bigger serving), $10 for okonomiyaki)

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile

Want more? Keep an eye on the Events ACT website for next year’s date



13 Responses to “Canberra Nara Candle Festival”

  1. whisperinggums October 27, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    Nice to read your write up. We went in 2009 when our son volunteered – he’d just returned from three years in Japan as a JET. I don’t recollect the long food lines – I think we must have been lucky or the event is growing in popularity. But, it is a truly lovely event I think … and the lights are gorgeous.

  2. Bobby October 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    We also had a good time: amazing amount of people there and the candles looked beautiful.

  3. Gary Lum October 28, 2013 at 5:47 am #

    I trust you’re not going to change your hair colour πŸ™‚


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