CJ Rivard compares Illumination Night to Christmas Day. The bright lights. The excitement. The tradition.

In her first year as MVCMA executive director, Ms. Rivard eagerly awaits this year’s big event held at the Oak Bluffs Tabernacle and surrounding Camp Ground on Wednesday evening, August 17, beginning at dusk.

“The biggest thing to remember about Illumination Night is remembering the tradition,” said Ms. Rivard. “We try not to change too much.”

Annually scheduled for the third Wednesday of August, Illumination Night began over a century ago as a way to mark the Governor of Massachusetts’s visit to Oak Bluffs according to the MVCMA. Today, thousands of visitors flood into the Camp Ground for the night to look at hundreds of paper lanterns hanging off the cottage porches. Inspired by Chinese and Japanese artistic designs, the paper lantern tradition dates back to 1968.

Pianists Stefan Young and Amaryllis Glass will begin the evening with a duet on the Tabernacle’s grand piano. A community sing-along follows their performance.

The first lantern is lit at around 8:45 p.m., an honor typically bestowed on the MVCMA’s oldest resident. The lights then quickly spread outward from the Tabernacle throughout the Camp Ground. The evening’s festivities end by around 11 p.m.

“It’s the biggest holiday of the season for [the Camp Ground],” explained Ms. Rivard.

In the days leading up to Wednesday night, the Camp Ground offers workshops for those trying to create their own lanterns. The Oak Bluffs Firemen’s Civic Association plans to accommodate parking for those visiting Oak Bluffs, operating a lot behind Sunset Lake during the festivities.

For more information on this year’s Illumination, visit mvcma.org

Photos from last year's Illumination Night.