The Canberra Nara Candle Festival has been held annually in Canberra Nara Park since 2003, when a delegation of citizens from Nara participated in an informal ceremony to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Sister City relationship. The Canberra Nara Candle Festival is based upon a much larger candle festival, known as the Nara 'Tokae', first held in Nara in 1999.

Nara's 'Tokae'

Each year in August, Nara's parks and world heritage sites are bathed in the light of tens of thousands of candles. This spectacular event has grown in popularity each year. The name of the Festival comes from the Japanese word 'to-ka', describing a shape resembling flower petals which sometimes forms around the wick when a candle is lit. The occurrence of the 'to-ka' is believed to represent good fortune.

A community event with a Japanese flavour

The Canberra Nara Candle Festival shares the values of peace and goodwill and is a celebration of the Canberra Nara Sister City relationship. The festival is held in Canberra around October each year and has grown in popularity showing the warm regard that Canberrans have for Nara and the lively interest Australians have in all aspects of Japanese culture. Highlights of the festival include Japanese food and cultural activities such as calligraphy, origami, lantern-making, martial arts demonstrations, and entertainment.

The centrepiece of the festival is a display of 3,000 candles which are lit at dusk by festival volunteers.