January 9th – The Festival of Distant Light

The Festival of Distant Light was founded in 1986 as a response to the ever-increasing levels of light pollution in Buentoille. Various ideas for the festival’s form were put forward at the Council of Logistics’ AGM. The minutes from the meeting also note a sit-in protest by the Guild of Tallow and Wax Merchants (the Guild’s modern membership encompasses sellers of all forms of lighting appliance, but they have kept the name for tradition’s sake), who wished to register their discontent with the entire discussion.

Out of the thirty proposals – ranging from bussing the City’s children out to the countryside once a month, to banning all electric lights – the winning solution was to have one night a year when no man-made lighting would be permitted in the City. This serendipitously coincided with the Union of Lamplighters’ new demands for their own yearly day of rest.

The blackout is enforced by a special group (The Brigade of Darkness) set up for the purpose, voted in at the AGM every year. There are usually attempts to sabotage the festival by members of the Cult of the Eternal Flame, who feel that their religious rights are being trampled upon, especially as the Eternal Flame itself was (they believe) made by divine, rather than human, hands. Due to a number of violent scuffles between the Brigade and cultists, special consideration has been made for them in the form of blackout blinds. However, there are still attempts to mar the festival, including the 1999 burning of the ancient Sien Pyre (a monument to the last minute pardoning of Lady de Sien, who had been accused of witchcraft in 1441). Every year the Cult of the Eternal Flame will also unsuccessfully attempt to have their candidate elected to the Brigade of Darkness.

Deckchairs and blankets are placed about the City by the Brigade, for the maximum enjoyment of the stars. Extensive cloud seeding occurs before the festival to increase the chances of clear skies, but unfortunately it is not always successful. Assuming that conditions are right, the City’s five parks are usually bustling with people from five onwards; Revolution Park is generally considered the best spot, as the lake provides a beautiful mirror to the stars. A great amount of unlicensed mulled wine stands tend to pop up in the parks tonight, and violinists play plaintive melodies to the crowds.

Visitors to the City should bear in mind that all non-foot traffic (besides emergency vehicles) is prohibited tonight.

Other festivals happening today:

  • Borscht Appreciation Day
  • Terry’s Funk Fiasco
  • The Cult of the Eternal Flame’s Day of Discontent