Festivals & Events
Each year we serve between 15,000 and 20,000 people through our annual festivals. With a broad membership from Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, and enthusiastic supporters from well beyond, Spontaneous Celebrations has developed a spirited, successful, and unique approach to community building. Learn more about our history of annual events below.
Wake Up the Earth Festival
The Wake Up the Earth Festival began in 1979 when a group of local neighbors and activists banded together to stop the Interstate 95 expansion into Jamaica Plain. The festival began as, and still is, a celebration of what can be accomplished when people of all traditions, cultures, ages, and beliefs come together. The annual Wake Up the Earth Festival (WUTE) takes place each year on the first Saturday in May and is currently attended by well over 10,000 individuals of all ages and features 4 stages including the music and dance performances, Popular Theatre, the Youth Stage, and Story Telling for All Ages. In addition to perfornances, WUTE features over 50 craft, non-profit, and food vendors; recent festivals have also included an enchanted puppet forest, side shows, live bands, dancers, acoustic performers and a giant pageant. A great many individuals, local artists, community groups, and schools join forces every year to create this unique community collaboration.
First Night is Boston's annual New Year's Eve Celebration. Students from LaPinata (a Latino youth program hosted by Spontaneous), and the Manning and Curley After School programs and families practice drumming and samba dancing in the Fall. Usually we have combined troop of approximately 75 youth in the parade.
Jamaica Pond Lantern Parade
The ritual of the Jamaica Pond Lantern Parade began in 1984 when people gathered to make a journey with their candle-lit lanterns around Jamaica Pond. In preparation for the Lantern Parade, Spontaneous Celebrations and community members host lantern making workshops in which youth and adults of all ages create beautiful hand made lanterns from recycled soda bottles decorated with colorful tissue paper. The festival also involves local businesses who sell hand made lanterns and offer workshops in their shops. By the night of the festival, several thousand people have made lanterns (and anyone who hasn't can purchase one the night of the parade). Each year approximately 4,000 people arrive at Jamaica Pond on each of two evenings at sunset with their lanterns; many children arriving in full Halloween costume as well. The parade proceeds around the pond, bringing a trail of bouncing lights into the darkness that can be seen from all directions. This beautiful autumn evening ceremony has become an annual tradition in our community. The Lantern Parade has its cultural roots in Dutch tradition. It reflects our dedication to building community by exploring old and creating new cultural traditions.
Tropical Fiesta is an indoor festival that takes place each winter at Spontaneous Celebrations' 45 Danforth Street facility. We transform our entire building into a tropical forest (including a tropical canopy which covers our ceiling) and provide an evening of Caribbean music, food, dancing, and art. The evening begins with educational art-making workshops for young children and then continues late into the night with dancing and celebration. Tropical Fiesta is a great way to get out of the biting cold of Boston’s winters and into a place of creativity and joy. This festival is supported by the work of high school students in the Beantown Society.