The 2022 Lucia Nights (Festival of Lights) celebration begins on Friday December 9, 2022, and Saturday December 10, 2022, from 6 to 9 PM each night. This Swedish tradition is based on a legend of Saint Lucia, Queen of Light. During a famine in Sweden, on the longest and darkest night of the year, Lucia appeared wearing a long white robe and encircling her head was a crown of candles. Legend has it that Lucia appeared on a ship laden with food. When the ship was unloaded, both it and Lucia vanished. Girls in Sweden today wake their families on December 13th carrying a tray of Lucia buns while dressed in a white robe and wearing a crown of candles.
Lucia Nights begins in Bishop Hill with the Lighting of the Park Christmas tree at 6 PM on Friday, December 9th. The public is invited to bring edible ornaments to hang on the tree. Jack Watson will provide music at the tree lighting, followed by the Peoria Cooperative Academy Madrigal Singers. Throughout the evening, businesses and museums will have Lucia Girls to greet guests. Around the village, each building will have a single candle in each and every window, and sidewalks will also be illuminated by candles. Restaurants are open both evenings and special Christmas gifts will be on sale.
Bishop Hill will be hosting a wide variety of free Christmas activities. At the Steeple Building Museum, Hammer and Pick will be playing a variety of Christmas and folk music from 6 to 9 PM. The VASA National Archives will have a closing reception for their Early Christianity in Sweden and Documenting Swedish America exhibits. Also at the Archives, storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis will share a medley of Swedish and Pioneer Christmas stories and songs from 6 to 8 PM. At the Bishop Hill Fire Station, the Peoria Folkulele will perform at 6 PM, Barry Cloyd will be performing at 7 PM, and Jack Watson & Friends will be performing at 8 PM. The Peoria Cooperative Academy Madrigal Singers will perform at the Bishop Hill Creative Commons starting at 6 PM. Kids can become a Lucia Girl or a Tomte by using the Colony Church’s Selfie Station.
The Bishop Hill Community United Methodist Church will host its annual Soup and Chili Supper, beginning at 4 PM and a free-will donation is appreciated to cover the cost of the meal. Line of Sight Studios in the Dairy Building will be doing $50 Walk-In Family Mini Photo Session Specials.
On Saturday December 10th only, Entwined and the Krans Kafe are hosting horse drawn carriage rides. A carriage ride cost $5 per person. Children under the age of 1 are free. Also, at 7 PM, there will be an Old Fashioned Barn Dance at the Colony School where the Sangamo Stemwinders will be performing. All dances taught and called by Gail Hintze and Jim Hicks. Admission is $5 per person and beginners are welcome. No partner is necessary.
Lucia Nights is sponsored by the Bishop Hill Arts Council, Bishop Hill Heritage Association, Bishop Hill State Historic Site, VASA National Archives, Bishop Hill Old Settlers’ Association, Bishop Hill Volunteer Fire Department, Bishop Hill Creative Commons, and numerous local businesses. This event is also partly funded by the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
For more details, call 309-927-3899 or view www.visitbishophill.com. Photographs courtesy of Lou Lourdeau