Gathering Festival and Festival of Hallows 2020 update


we are sure everyone understands by now that there will be no Gathering Festival this summer 2020 due to the Covid issues. We are waiting to see if we can run a modified Festival of Hallows this fall. We will let you know when we know. In the meantime we are leaving last years Hallows Festival pages up if you want to learn more.


Jar Lantern Shrine Labyrinth

The historical origins of both Halloween and Day of the Dead go back for millennia. Many ancient cultures believed that a veil between the living and the dead is thinner at certain times of the year. Both the early Celts and the Aztec celebrated this occurrence in the fall. These ancient celebrations are still observed today as All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov 1 and 2 respectively while many other cultures ritually honour their ancestors at other times of the year. The Festival of Hallows highlights the value of paying homage to our ancestors while celebrating life itself. The activities follow many traditional reflective and memorializing practices from Mexico, South America, Eastern Europe and the British Ilse while having fun with North American Halloween games and activities. The festival attempts to include other cultures, rituals and traditions to honour and respect the dead that may not be practiced at the same time of the year.


Community and Personal Shrines for the Dead

On Halloween or the eve of Day of the Dead, Mexicans decorate shrines with flowers, candles, pictures, food and other reminders of dead loved ones.


A young family adding a loved ones name to the Community Reliquary

A central component of this Festival is the construction of community shrines that pay tribute to all ancestors and loved ones that have passed away. The highlight of the festival is at Emery Barnes Park on Oct 31st where the shrines are lit with candles accompanied by live music, food and culminate in a procession through the downtown streets of Vancouver. Other installations include a Skull Rack modeled after ancient Aztec artifacts in Mexico City, a reflective candle Labyrinth modeled after the famous Chartres Labyrinth in France and typical Halloween style installations. The mood is both somber and festive; it can be likened to a community wake where areas of the park are installed for quiet reflection while other areas celebrate with games and music.


Mariachi Los Dorados performing at the Hallows Festival


1) The ancient Celtic festival celebrating the dead (Samhain) was absorbed by the Catholic Church in the 9th century to become All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on Oct 31st followed by All Saints Day on Nov 1.

2) Derived from ancient Aztec festivities, the Mexican Day of the Dead festival was absorbed by the Catholic Church to become All Saints Day and All Souls Day on Nov 1st and 2nd.


Traditional Aztec/Mexican Tzompantli (Skull Rack) by Gathering Place participants.


T-REX and the Granville Procession


Carnival Band at the Granville Street Procession


Partiers following the Procession in disguises!

The ancient Celts believed the veil between the physical world and the afterlife thinned on Halloween. People wore masks and costumes to disguise (guising) their identities from the dead; the practice of ‘Guising’ continues today as Halloween costumes.




Soul Cakes are the earliest known Halloween treat dating from the middle ages. On All Hallows Eve (Halloween), ‘Soulers’ (children and the poor) begged door to door asking for Soul Cakes in exchange for prayers for the dead. ‘Souling’ evolved into modern day ‘Trick or Treating’. 1000 Soul Cakes were served over the duration of the festival and 10 Halloween candy stations were located throughout the park on Halloween Night for children and families.


Uzume Taiko at the Hallows Festival


Aboriginal Blessing of the Shrines


Shrine making booth


Hallows Festival Community Gods Eye Installation

Late at night the park gets quiet and reflective.

Come join us for the 2019 Festival of Hallows Oct 18 through 31.

Stay tuned for details on this falls FESTIVAL OF HALLOWS