One of Lethbridge’s premier attractions, the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, is planning new events and celebrations with support from the City of Lethbridge.
City Council will be working with the Lethbridge and District Japanese Garden Society to secure grant funding that would bring a new Nikka Yuko Winter Lights Festival to the city in late 2016. The City is also committed to assisting with protocol and invitations to dignitaries for the 2017 Nikka Yuko 50th anniversary celebration.
“Nikka Yuko is such a unique part of Lethbridge and something we are very proud of,” says Mayor Chris Spearman. “By expanding the events held there and hosting a celebration for the 50th anniversary, we’ll continue to build awareness in our community and with tourists for this amazing attraction.”
Many communities throughout Japan hold Winter Light Festivals and hosting one at Nikka Yuko will highlight Japanese culture in a new way in Southern Alberta. By introducing the event in 2016, organizers hope to increase awareness of the longevity and significance of the Garden leading into the 50th anniversary celebration in 2017.
“The City is very supportive of this new venture for Nikka Yuko and we look forward to having a way to enjoy the Japanese Garden not just in the summer but now through the winter months as well,” says Mayor Spearman.
The first Winter Light Festival is planned to be open to the public Thursday–Saturday evenings in December 2016 and January 2017. Garden tours will take place explaining the history and horticulture as well as Japanese winter traditions, clothes, and food.
To commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday and the 50th anniversary of Nikka Yuko, a celebration is planned for the summer of 2017. The planning committee hopes to attract public along with local, provincial, federal, and international dignitaries, including Japanese Royalty. In 1992 the Prince and Princess Takamado, Japan’s Imperial Family, visited Lethbridge for the Garden’s 25th anniversary celebration.
In 2015 Nikka Yuko saw a 53 per cent increase in visitors with a total of 19,504 people coming to the venue, and sales of family passes increased by 480 per cent, which in turn increased the number of tour options and summer programs.
The mission of the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is to provide an opportunity to experience the serenity and peace of our natural environment as expressed through Japanese Garden architecture and culture. The Garden was established as a monument to the contribution made to Canadian culture by Canadians of Japanese descent. Official known as the Nikka Yuko Centennial Garden, the site opened in 1967 for Canada’s 100th birthday and was designated a Municipal Historical Resource in 2015.