Moving ‘sculpture garden’ with glowing, handmade lanterns will light up Morningside Heights

Posted On Tue, August 16, 2022 By

Posted On Tue, August 16, 2022 By In Events, Morningside Heights

Morningside Lights 2019; Photo by Michael Seto

Morningside Heights’ annual lantern festival will light up the sky for the first time totally in person since 2019. Hosted by the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at the Columbia University School of the Arts, the 11th-annual “Morningside Lights” event allows visitors to create their own lanterns and float them in a procession from Morningside Park to Columbia’s campus. Free lantern building workshops will be held on September 17 through 23 and the procession kicks off on September 24 at 8 p.m.


Morningside Lights in 2021 included take-home DIY lantern kits and a theme inspired by Shakespeare and Duke Ellington; Photo courtesy of Arts Initiative on Flickr

This year’s theme is The Reimagined Monument, a moving sculpture garden made up of more than 40 community-built lanterns that represent personal reflections on how people memorialize. The newly created lanterns are meant to serve as monuments, and speak on the “current moment, shared past, and hopes for the future,” according to an official press release.

The full-fledged version of the festival was last held in 2019 with the theme of “Island,” meant to remind participants that “in the end, none of us is an island,” according to a press release.

“This year’s theme, The Reimagined Monument, offers the chance for participants to rethink how we memorialize through statues and monuments, and create new ones that reflect personal experiences,” Melissa Smey, the executive director of the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre, said.

Map courtesy of the Arts Initiative and Miller Theatre at Columbia University

The free lantern-building workshops will take place September 17 to 23 at the Miller Theatre on Broadway at 116th Street. Both afternoon and evening workshop sessions will be offered, and are free and open to participants of all backgrounds and abilities. Children ages 10 and up are welcome to participate under the supervision of an adult. More information on signing up for a workshop can be found here.

The procession begins at 8 p.m. in Morningside Park at 116th Street and Morningside Avenue. The entire route is about one mile in distance and will reach the Columbia campus around 8:45 p.m.

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