Did you know that Grand Illumination night has been happening for over a century? It began as a way to celebrate the visit of the Governor of Massachusetts to Martha’s Vineyard.
This tradition is celebrated by thousands of Islanders and visitors each year, and it truly is a special evening.
We happen to live close to the the Campground, and each year this event is a must. Some years we throw big parties, other years it’s a special family event.
After our lanterns are strung in our yard, it’s time to BBQ. This is not an event to fall short on. So we always go to Edgartown Meat & Fish for their house marinade steak tips. Then you add in some fresh veggies from our garden and from Morning Glory Farm and relax a bit.
Then the excitement of going to Illumination night begins. There is a buzz in the air. The kids sense that the time is coming and knowing they will be up late, most likely getting glow sticks, and experiencing something magical.
As the sun begins to set, we begin our walk to the Campground along with thousands of other people. The cottages’ porches are packed with people, enjoying a cocktail, celebrating this joyous occasion and waiting for the the lighting of the lanterns.
However before that can happen, there is a community sing at the center of it all, at the Tabernacle. Great classics that both young and old sing together, classic Americana at its finest. Then the lights in the Tabernacle go out, and then all the lanterns are lit simultaneously.
It’s such a moment, like catching the flash at a sunset. The oohs and aahs follow. Then, people walk throughout the Campground, finding old favorites, and seeing what’s new, captivated by the colors and magic of these deceivingly simple paper lanterns.
There’s talking between event goers and cottage owners. It becomes one big community celebration for the evening.
It’s the colors, the patterns, the personalized ones, the heirloom pieces, the beautiful cottages as their display case. It’s the laughter of generations together celebrating this spectacular evening on Martha’s Vineyard. A night where memories are made.
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