Clouds of colour set to light up Gage Park peace festival

Event organizer Mark Gowland hopes to bring something new to Hamilton at the Midsummer Night's Dream Peace festival.
This Holi festival in Germany is something like what Gowland hopes to achive in Gage Park come August. (Oliver Lang/Associated Press)

Ever party in a crowed park while multicoloured dye rains down on you and other excited partygoers?

Probably not.

But Mark Gowland is giving you the chance in Gage Park at the Midsummer Night's Dream Peace Festival on August 18.

The festival is less a nod to Shakespeare and more a homage to the Indian Holi Festival of Colours, where people celebrate wildly and hurl coloured powder at each other.

Holi celebrates peace and breaks down barriers — something Gowland hopes to achieve at this festival, too.

"If a rich person and a poor person are laughing at the same joke, they're at the same level," Gowland told CBC Hamilton. "That's kind of what this is like."

"And if people can experience peace for one night, maybe it can create a wave."

Holi also commemorates a good harvest, which Gowland is trying to achieve, too. The event is a fundraiser for the Neighbour to Neighbour Food Bank — and he's strict about it. No one gets to buy any dye unless they bring a non-perishable food item.

Food banks have been hurting all summer, and Gowland says he's trying to do his part to help.

"My whole inspiration was to hold a festival that celebrates peace, love and bliss," Gowland said. "And maybe this way people can say 'giving is fun,' too."

Aside from plumes of coloured dye (which is mostly made from cornstarch) the festival will also feature DJ's, buskers, and live music.

Come sunset, the crowd will be given glow sticks and be formed into a giant peace sign, which will be captured from the air by a camera attached to a remote control helicopter.

"It's kind of like an alternate reality," Gowland said. "And I wanted to create it right here."

The festival starts at 3 p.m. in Gage Park on August 18. Come 11 p.m., the party continues at Club Absinthe.

For more information, visit the Midsummer Night's Dream Facebook page here.