Since 2012, the Arts Initiative and Miller Theater at Columbia University have hosted Morningside Lights. This free, week-long celebration of crafty creativity culminates in a spectacular illuminated procession of large-scale, handmade lanterns. This year’s theme is “The Secret Gardens.” Read on for info on how you and the kids can be involved, and when the parade kicks off!

photo: Karli Cadel

Celebrating Green Spaces
Each year of Morningside Lights celebrates a different theme. Previous years’ themes include “The Imagined City” which brought illuminated skyscraper lanterns to Morningside Park; “New York Nocturne”, which inspired participants to create fantastical evocations of the city after dark, and “TRAVERSE”, a Pulitzer Prize and poetry-themed procession.

This year’s theme, “The Secret Gardens” salutes Harlem’s community green spaces. Visiting artists Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles of Processional Arts Workshop will help participants imagine, design and create lanterns that evoke all kinds of horticultural spaces in Harlem, from urban farms, to wildflower fields, to communal gardens.

photo: Karli Cadel

Help Build a Lantern
Not only can you witness this fantastical sight, you can help build the lanterns in the procession. Free, daily lantern-building workshops are open to the public and will take place at Miller Theater at Columbia University at 2960 Broadway.

On Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17, workshops will run from noon to 6 p.m.

During the week, workshops will run from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday. Those interested in taking part can visit for more information and to sign up for the workshops.

Activities are geared toward teens and adults, but children ages 10 and up are welcome if working with a participating adult. Materials, tools, and techniques may not be appropriate for children under age 10.

photo: Karli Cadel

For the Tiniest of Volunteers
A family craft table featuring a lantern-making project designed for younger children will be hosted on Saturday, September 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Down to Earth Farmers Market in Morningside Park at 110th Street and Manhattan Avenue. Children and their families are invited to create lanterns during the day for that evening’s Morningside Lights procession.

photo: Karli Cadel

The Big Event
The big procession takes place on Saturday, September 23 at 8 p.m., beginning at 8 p.m. It begins in Morningside Park at 116 Street and Morningside Avenue.

Morningside Lights
Workshops, Sep. 16 -22; Procession, Sat., Sep. 23, 8 p.m.
Morningside Park
116 Street & Morningside Ave.

Have you attended Morningside Lights with your family? Tell us in the comments!

— Mimi O’Connor