Solstice Celebration Lantern Walk 

December 23, 2018

at 5:45 p.m.

Photo by Caitlin Margaret Kelly

Each December, the Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere, and the longest night of the year. This astronomical event is significant to many cultures, religions, and traditions, for many different reasons. For the Hillsborough, NC community, it has become a beautiful evening to gather and recognize the peaceful quiet that the darker, colder months of the year can bring.


The Solstice Lantern Walk, which will take place at 5:45PM on December 21, 20018, is a non-denominational winter event that encourages creativity and community participation. Individuals are asked to bring a handmade lantern that lights up,to guide them along the walk. Participants will gather at the Farmer’s Market Pavilion be led on a procession along the path of the Riverwalk in Hillsborough, looping around and ending at the Weaver Street Parking deck.

Along with the Lantern Walk, the Hillsborough Arts Council (HAC) announces that they will be saying farewell to the beloved Patrick Dougherty Stickwork installation, A Sight to Behold, this winter. Due to the ephemeral nature of the organic materials used, the lifespan of Dougherty’s work is expected to be about two years; Hillsborough has been lucky to enjoy A Sight to Behold for more than three. HAC is asking the community to join them in saying farewell to A Sight to Behold as part of the Solstice Lantern Walk on December 21 at 5:45PM. You must be a registered participant to walk with the group and view "A Sight to Behold," on this evening. HAC volunteers will be decorating the Stickwork structure for one final Lantern Walk. They will also have music at the site of the sculpture by Native Flutist Erika Alexander.


This event is free (donations encouraged)

The Hillsborough Arts Council does require all participants to register in advance.


Can't attend this year but love the Solstice Lantern Walk?

Your gift helps us create this and many other wonderful events for the Hillsborough Community!


We still need a few volunteers for the Lantern Walk! No experience or prior volunteering for HAC required. Volunteers will help at the various access points of the River Walk to ensure the crowd follows the path, and anyone entering the walk from that point waits until the end of the line to join. The best part about volunteering at this event is that you get the BEST viewing spot in the house! 

Volunteers are needed on 12/23 at 5:00 PM until roughly 7:00 PM. If you are interested in volunteering this night we have a couple of spots remaining.

We'd also need to secure a few volunteers for Sunday, 12/23, which is our rain date! We'll communicate with you as soon as we know the program is postponed due to the weather. If you are available both nights, that's great too. Let us know.

Email Torey at

and let her know your interest and availability!


WHY ARE QUIET AND WHITE EMPHASIZED? The Winter Solstice marks the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. The Solstice Lantern Walk is a non-denominational celebration of the days slowly getting longer. 


While it is close to the holidays, this is an intentional recognition of the quiet beauty of new winter light. We respectfully leave other winter holiday traditions such as carolling, etc. for incorporation into events other than the lantern walk. 


Bring your cameras and let the competition begin!


This year we're adding a photography contest to our Lantern Walk. We're excited to be working with News of Orange to showcase the 4 best participant/viewer submitted photographs in the January 9th Edition of the paper! The winners will also receive some of our new HAC Swag and four free lantern kits for 2019.


Photographs should be submitted via email to with "Solstice Photo Submission" in the subject line. One photograph per participant, include the name of the photographer in the body of the email. Photographs must be JPEG format. Photographs must be submitted by 1/1/2019 for consideration.

Lantern Walk Route - Enter from the Eno River Farmers Market 
Parking Encouraged on the East side of town (to the right of Orange County Courthouse on map below) All entry to Riverwalk from Farmers Market Pavilion.
Overflow parking via parking deck.
Click map to enlarge.
PLEASE NOTE: NO ACCESS will be permitted along the River Walk at any other entry points. These are noted here on the map. Participants who wish to join at these points will be required to wait until the very end of the line to join in. 
If you'd like to watch the solstice walk, please see the viewpoint map for some of the best options for vantage points and viewing. 

We are so excited to let you know that in celebration of the Solstice Lantern Walk, Antonia's will be offering $1 off all local draft beers! Make that your warm-up stop following the walk. You'll find Antonia's at 101 N. Churton, open until 9PM. They serve authentic regional Italian cuisine prepared with fresh and local ingredients.

For more info and menus visit


Stop in to the King Street Bar after the Lantern Walk and sip on some holiday cheer with one of their seasonal Holiday Cocktails. Along with a guarantee of great service, you'll find even better drinks, some yummy snacks and don't forget the indoor bocce ball! King Street Bar is located at 114 W. King Street and on Facebook here!

Margaret Lane Gallery is opening their doors for a little extra Lantern Walk fun! Stop by this Friday before and after the Lantern walk (located at 121 W Margaret Lane) to warm up, enjoy light refreshments, make a Christmas ornament at their art table, and revel in the current show, Celebrate the Season, and other offerings from over 25 local artists. Margaret Lane Gallery offers a broad array of gift-able art, ornaments and jewelry selected to appeal to a wide range of interests and budgets. Open until 8:30 pm on the evening of the walk.

Our friends over at Bandidos in Hillsborough will be offering up a treat this Friday. Get free queso dip with any two regular priced dinner entrees. This special is only good Friday 12/21 as part of the Hillsborough Solstice Celebration!



STILL AVAILABLE at the Hillsborough Arts Council Gallery and Gift Shop at 102 N. Churton Street. 

A Video on How To Use Your  Lantern Kit:

Lantern Guidelines for 2018:

  • Lanterns should be handmade and follow the "winter white" theme.

  • Please use white lights also, absolutely no flames.

  • Bells and chimes may be added.

  • Be creative!

Reminder, we are using LEDs (absolutely no flames allowed).

Some of these videos show colored lanterns but please stay true to the Winter White color theme.

We know that this creative community will come together with fun creations! We can't wait to see yours!

Want to protect your handmade lanterns? Spraying clear aerosol lacquer helps protect them from the elements.


2017 - video by Michelle Whitfield and Jeff Shields, music and Picture Maker at Kleptonaut

2016 - video by Michelle Whitfield and Jeff Shields, music and Picture Maker at Kleptonaut

2015 - Inaugural parade passed StickWork by Patrick Dougherty, which was sponsored by the Hillsborough Arts Council and completed late November 2015.


Video by Gregg McPherson of Grey Egg Productions 

© 2018 HILLSBOROUGH ARTS COUNCIL. All rights reserved.      102 North Churton Street, Hillsborough NC 27278       (919) 643-2500

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