by Robert Bell
6 p.m. Wildwood Park. $5-$10.
Winter usually isn't the time of year for outdoor festivals, but this isn't your ordinary festival. Coinciding with the first full moon of the lunar year, Lanterns! Festival offers its attendees the chance to wander through the woods along paths illuminated by fire pits and lanterns of all varieties.
Gazing into these lights will present one with an occasion for self-reflection and ruminations on the year past, the year to come and all of the years and decades and centuries stretching out before us, eons disappearing into the churning void of infinity, beyond the scope of "time," beyond the ability of man to comprehend, beyond comprehension itself. Looking into the fire pits hearkens back to something deeply, eternally human. Just as our prehistoric ancestors surely stared into the flickering blaze — source of light, warmth, safety — and contemplated their place in the known world, so too are we modern-day homo sapiens entranced by the combustion of carbon-based materials and the resulting warmth and flames. And while our understanding of the universe dwarfs that of our ancient predecessors, our minds can no more grasp the true scope of the cosmos than could theirs.
So if you're out there staring at the lanterns and fires and all of a sudden you get real hungry, there will be food and drinks from several great area restaurants available for purchase. In addition to the luminaries, Wildwood and its sponsors have recreated the feel of different cultures and cuisines from around the globe, including China, Paris, India, Venice, Americana with a baseball theme and Shakespeare's England. There will be performances from Ballet Arkansas, Arkansas Shakespeare Festival and more. Check Wildwood's website for the schedule. The event continues nightly through Saturday.