The Winter Lights Festival transforms Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden into a sparkling winter wonderland.
“Can we ring the bell one more time, Mom? Please?!” my girls chime in unison. It’s not every day you can ring a bronze bell taller than you. We give them the okay and they scramble up the stairs to push the shu-moku (suspended wooden beam) towards the Friendship Bell. Upon contact, a sonorous bong reverberates through the gardens, and then another… and a few more.
Michelle Day, Executive Director of Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens, smiles as she’s seen it before. Even adults can’t resist the bell which was commissioned specifically for the gardens and cast in Kyoto. She recommends we come back on Joya No Kane (New Year’s Eve), when Buddhist monks will ring the bell 108 times – to rid people of worldly desires accumulated throughout the year.
Bell tones and giggling aside, the gardens are quiet. Michelle is giving us a sneak peek of Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden’s Winter Lights Festival before it opens to the public. As the girls flick the lights on, they exclaim how different the gardens look in winter… and “how pretty!”
It has taken Michelle’s team of 8 over 600 hours to hang 100,000 lights (and more are yet to be put up) in a dazzling array. More than pretty lights however, the festival is a cultural experience where you can celebrate The Emperor’s Birthday or Joya No Kane (New Year’s Eve Bell Ringing Ceremony), learn about Japanese traditions, and savor Japanese treats. Enjoy a Sleigh Ride, free with paid admission, on special dates too!
The Nikka Yuko Winter Lights Festival runs from November 26, 2021 – February 28, 2022. Stay for the weekend to experience more winter fun in Lethbridge!
Where to Stay
The Coast Lethbridge Hotel and Conference Centre is located only one kilometre from Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden and boasts a swimming pool, free breakfast, and spacious rooms.
Read MORE about our weekend in Lethbridge at FestivalSeekers: Bask in the festive glow of Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden’s Winter Lights Festival.
For More Information
To learn more about the Winter Lights Festival, visit Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden – Events Calendar. For more fun things to do in Lethbridge, check out VisitLethbridge.com or read our story: Winter Fun in Lethbridge.