Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Celebrating

It’s the holiday season and people love to celebrate. After so much time in lockdown or in simply staying away from friends and family, the vaccines and safety protocols have been helpful in reducing the effects of the pandemic which stubbornly continues to impact our lives.

This week, Amy writes, “We hope you will join us to share your photos of the celebrations you’ve seen through your travels or at home – whether it’s a festival, birthday, anniversary, holidays, or any special day.” You can read her entire challenge post here.

People are getting back to some semblance of normal and holiday celebrations are on tap for millions around the world. One of the ways people celebrate special occasions is with fireworks. In the United States, New Year’s Day and Independence Day are given the biggest excuse to blow up thousands of dollars in fireworks displays. My opening photo is from a trade group of pyrotechnics specialists showing off their latest technologies.


There are many holiday celebrations in many religions at the end of the calendar year. In Phoenix every year, the Phoenix Botanical Garden hosts a holiday celebration featuring luminaries, a southwestern tradition that in earlier times featured candles in paper bags lighting walkways. These days, the candles have been replaced by low-power LED lights, but the impact is the same. Historically, people in the southwest lit three bonfires in celebration of the Christmas holidays. Over time, the lighted luminaries replaced the large fires.


Every year people celebrate the death of the dark ages and the coming of the Renaissance period in Europe. Performers actually travel a circuit of Renaissance Faires around the United States bringing the bright costumes, stage shows, and tournaments to venues that attract visitors from all over the region. The image above features a swordsman with the horse at full gallop during one of the tournaments at the Arizona Renaissance Festival in Gold Canyon, Arizona. I used a 1/250 shutter speed and panned the camera following the subject. The high shutter speed stopped the action of the subject while allowing some motion blur of the spectators in the stands behind.

United Tribes PowWow-3

Every year, all around the country, Native Americans celebrate their heritage with PowWows that are open to the general public. I have visited a few of these, and have enough photos that I could devote an entire post to this type of celebration alone. Unfortunately, I am not competent to discuss the purposes of the many costumes worn by the participants. The costumes make for colorful photos of the celebrations.


One of the most moving celebrations I’ve witnessed is the annual Easter week Pilgrimage to Popoyuapa to honor Jesus the Rescuer in Nicaragua. We were on a tour bus traveling to visit a Nicaraguan national park when traffic stopped on the very busy highway. We waited, the bus not moving, for more than 30 minutes. Eventually, the pilgrimage passed alongside our bus. Some hundred or so oxcarts with their faithful on this week-long journey during Easter week slowly moved in procession by my bus window. Stuck on the bus, I was at least sitting on the side that allowed me to capture several photos of the faithful as they passed by our window.


Mardi Gras is a celebration in New Orleans held on “Fat Tuesday”, the day before the beginning of Lent in the Catholic religion. It is derived from the celebrations in South and Central America known as Carnival. Mazatlán Mexico hosts the third-largest celebration in the world behind New Orleans and Rio De Janeiro. In 2015, we found ourselves there, standing along the beachfront highway watching the celebration parade pass by.

Having grown up in the Christian faith, I don’t have a lot of knowledge about the many non-Christian religious celebrations that are held around the world, but suffice it to say, all of the world’s religions have found their own ways to celebrate.

Magic First Day-1

My final image features a traditional celebration on cruise ships everywhere. As the ship leaves the dock on departure, on the Lido Deck, passengers dance, drink, and otherwise celebrate the departure on their latest cruise adventure.

The post-pandemic cruise we just completed featured a sail away party, but it was much less crowded than this image captured in 2018 as we sailed away from Miami on the Carnival Magic. With our ship at only 50 percent of guest capacity and surely with some people avoiding the gathering, even though everyone on the ship was vaccinated, it was probably the most crowded activity we saw going on the ship that week. We viewed the sail away from the deck above, and I didn’t take any photos of the gathering.

Thanks to Amy for this week’s challenge. Feel free to click on any of the images above to pixel peep or view the metadata from any of the images above. Alternatively, click here to view the entire album.

John Steiner


  1. I really enjoyed your nice variety of celebrations and nice capture of that swordsman. Also, the opening photo from the “trade group of pyrotechnics specialists” – showed how far fireworks have come over the years.
    And now that you mention it – I never see lit candles in a bag along walkways – LEDs are everywhere (and much safer).

  2. A wonderful world tour of celebrations John. The fireworks look really cool — much different than the usual. Only you would find those of the experts vs everyday! Loved all of your examples this week, and had a smile at the joy of the cruisers. Hopefully the new variant won’t interrupt any more plans for anyone.

    • We’ve been fortunate in that a nearby community hosts the PGI (Pyrotechnics Guild International) conventions about once every four years.
      Their ground based displays are quite a bit different than the sky displays. Last year it was scheduled to be in our town again, but was canceled due to the pandemic.

  3. The opening image is stunning, John! I love your panning shot is really cool.
    We canceled our December’s cuise due to the omicron variant…

  4. Loved the variety in this post John, you’ve really captured the feeling of celebrations in different places and among different communities 🙂 I like the Powwow and the Nicaraguan parade in particular – I’d love to witness something like these.

  5. What a great post of celebrations, John. You are also welcome to link this to my Writer’s Quotes Challenge if you like. It fits the topic of Festive and Celebrating. I love all the costumes featured in this post.

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