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Holiday Arts Preview

A ‘Solstice’ for the senses at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge

The annual show will feature interactive light and sound installations, created by artists at MASARY Studios, on select days in December

A variety of light installations illuminated Bigelow Chapel during the 2021 "Solstice" event.Aram Boghosian

Those seeking a winter walk amid festive holiday lights will not have to look far. “Solstice: Reflections on Winter Light,” an annual light show celebrating the shortest, darkest day of the year, will be on view at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge on select days Dec. 10-21. The cemetery, which ordinarily closes at 5 p.m., will be illuminated by an array of interactive light and sound installations created by artists at MASARY Studios, an artist collective that focuses on making multisensory and interactive art pieces. The event will also feature a candle-lighting ceremony held inside Bigelow Chapel on the cemetery grounds.

“The solstice has come to reflect this moment where people think about moving from darkness to light,” said Mount Auburn Cemetery president and CEO Matthew Stephens. He hopes the installations and candle-lighting ceremony will give attendees an opportunity to reflect on moments of change in their lives.


“We’re not sure what people will feel when they come to ‘Solstice,’” Stephens said. “It could be happiness, it could be sadness, it could be joy, it could be contemplation, it could be reflection. We want them to feel something, and ultimately, after two or three years of living in a crazy world, we think ‘Solstice’ will offer meaningful moments of inspiration and reflection.”

The event runs from 5 to 9:30 p.m. each day it is offered, with a timed entry every 30 minutes throughout the night. (The last entry is at 8:30 p.m.) Attendees are instructed to check in at Story Chapel Visitor Center and can take a self-guided route through the cemetery grounds. The route includes Hazel Dell, Bigelow Chapel, and Asa Gray Garden, each of which will feature unique, multisensory installations for visitors to peruse.

“Attendees are invited to interact with all of these elements by being able to navigate and approach them on foot, step inside an artwork, approach an artwork, and embrace an artwork while, of course, being able to light a candle,” said MASARY Studios cofounder and principal artist Sam Okerstrom-Lang.


Visitors lit candles inside Bigelow Chapel at the 2021 "Solstice" event.Aram Boghosian

The candle-lighting will be held inside the chapel, where violinist Eve Boltax, violist Brian Clague, and cellist Robert Bethel will perform live chamber music alongside other installations.

While a more limited version of the event existed last winter, Stephens said, “it’s definitely the first year where we’re really taking a larger part of the landscape and a larger part of some of our structures and incorporating them into a more full experience.”

Some food and beverages will be available for purchase from Johnny Burke Catering. While the route is expected to take between 45 minutes and an hour to complete, visitors are invited to stay until the cemetery closes at 9:30 p.m.

“We hope that [attendees] can make connections to themselves, to their families, to the environment and universe at large, while also kind of connecting and recognizing the cyclical nature of time that we’re in around the winter solstice,” Okerstrom-Lang said.

Musician Brian Clague, who plays the violin and viola, performed at Bigelow Chapel during the 2021 "Solstice" event.Aram Boghosian

Dec. 10-11, 13-18, and 20-21, 5-9:30 p.m. Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge. Members $15; adults $30; youth ages 6-12 $5; children ages 5 and under free.

Maya Homan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MayaHoman.