Celebrating its 10th year, the Phoenixville Firebird Festival returns this Saturday, December 14 with its annual whimsical bash filled with art, live music, dancing and a huge, burning wooden bird.
Launched a decade ago by local artist Henrik Stubbe Teglbjaerg to mark Phoenixville’s rise from the ashes of an economic downturn, the fest aims to enrich the local art scene and encourage collaboration between artists.
To that end, a slew of local artists showcase their wares and talents during the day-long event, which runs from 3 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and culminates with the phoenix lighting at 8:15 p.m.
In the afternoon, artists and crafters peddle a range of handmade goods from 3 p.m. through the end of the festival. Look for paper bird wands, custom artwork, hand-thrown pottery, glass ornaments, Firebird Festival swag, and much more. For the complete list of vendors, check here.
Then at 7:30 p.m., a long parade marches to the site of the giant bird sculpture with glowing lanterns, delicate peace birds and other puppets, wild dancers and drummers, and the torch that will light the phoenix. Starting at Bridge and Bank streets in the heart of downtown Phoenixville, the procession travels to Fillmore Street and Friendship Park.
The centerpiece of the fest, though, is when an effigy of the borough’s namesake — the phoenix — goes up in a blaze of flames. Scheduled for 8:15 p.m., a ceremonial lighting will set the enormous sculpture on fire, creating a huge bonfire and tons of heat.
Notably, each year the base of the phoenix sculpture is filled with small, ceramic birds crafted by locals that will be fired by the inferno, thus completing the cycle associated with the phoenix’s mythology.
The festival has grown exponentially over the past few years, with an expected attendance of more than 12,000 this year. To accommodate the crowds, the festival and craft bazaar will be held for the first time at Friendship Field in Phoenixville, on the north end of town adjacent to Reservoir Park.
In addition to the Firebird Festival, a number of additional events make Phoenixville a festive place to be come Saturday. The Phoenixville Fire Department hosts its annual craft fair with more than 30 vendors that same afternoon, a Toys for Tots Winter Festival starts at 10 a.m. at Kimberton Fairgrounds, and the Schuykill Canal Association’s Holiday Luminaria event runs nearby from 6 to 9 p.m.
Truly, the firebird is a sight to see.
Phoenixville Firebird Festival
When: Saturday, December 14, 3-7:30 p.m., lighting, 8:15 p.m.
Where: Friendship Field, Fillmore and Franklin streets, Phoenixville
More info: www.firebirdfestival.com