Most of the holidays and festivals around here are connected with at least one religion. I mean, when you've got three religions colliding in one place, it's hard to have time for any other kind of holiday! But for the past week, this small miracle did happen and we have had the Festival of Lights.
It is not connected to any religion so there aren't a lot of tourists to the city. Instead, it is mostly put on for the locals and whatever lucky tourists (like myself) happen to be around.
The festival itself is kinda hard to explain. Most of the city has lights running through it and there are different stations that have shows that combine light and sound. It's really sweet. It looks a lot like Christmas time in Minnesota. All the lights strung up. The crazy neighbors that go all out and put up enough lights it feels like daytime even in the middle of the night. All we are missing is five feet of snow and I would have felt right at home!
Anyway, we were walking down the streets admiring the displays, ooing and awing over the whole thing, when I made the comment, "This is so beautiful!" Then some random guy with a long scraggly beard and baggy, messy clothing looks over and says (much to our surprise) in an crisp accent, "It is ugly! I hate it! This is the worst year yet!" Our mouths dropped open and it took great effort to not let the laughter bubbling up inside spill over. My coworker, always ready to take on a challenge, replied, "Really? Well, if you were on the committee what would you have done." This resulted in a five minute conversation about the changes he would have made. Unfortunately, then we reached a fork in the road and parted ways. So we never got to hear the end of his stories. But he did make the event more lively.
Despite his complaints, I really did enjoy it. There were fantastic light displays, flame throwers, and strange interpretive dancing. Very entertaining to say the least. And while I don't have the energy to go out every night, it was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity that I'm glad I had.