Illumination Night

I  L  L  U  M  I  N  A  T  I  O  N     N  I  G  H  T

This was last night…. but first I have to give you a little history:  On Martha’s Vineyard, there’s a neighborhood called The Campground.  It began around 1840 as a Methodist meeting place; they came with their families every summer for years, camping out, setting up their tents in this location about a block from the sea.  After a while, they started building tiny cottages, with almost no space between them, where their tents used to be.  The Tabernacle (above) was constructed in the 1870’s, and is the center of the Campground; the cottages go all around it, with narrow walkways and “roads” just the right size for a horse and buggy, but not so good for cars.

The little houses are dripping with history (and gingerbread!).  Illumination Night started in the 1870’s when they began lighting up the Campground; the cottages are decorated with paper lanterns; the evening begins with a community sing in the Tabernacle and picnic dinners on the lawn; then the street lights go out; the cottages light up; and everyone strolls down the lanes to oooh and aah at the colors.  And that was last night! I took a million photos….thought you’d like to see some of them . . . Ready?  We’re going to get there early and get a good parking space.

I almost don’t know where to start with the photos!  The cottages are painted in the most imaginative ways, and they all have porches.  Look at that little detail on the screen!  And the curtains!  Someone loves this house.

Porches, paint, rocking chairs, and gingerbread . . .

  I really wouldn’t want to see Joe’s face if I came up with this paint scheme for our house.  Death ray eyes.  But I sure do love it when someone else does it!

Peeks at simple elegant cottage life.

The furniture, like the cottages, very big on charm.  Where less is more.

And more is fun.  But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

This is where the truly festive people live!  Makes you feel normal doesn’t it?  So let’s go to the Tabernacle and sing!

On our way there, these two adorable people.  And now it begins . . . small town life at its best.  

Just so you know where you are now . . .

You’re in there, under the tabernacle…or you’re outside, playing on the lawn, throwing lightsticks around.  You’re singing I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah, Yankee Doodle Dandy; you sing B – I – N – G – O,  and you’re doing stand-up-sit-down songs with the leader of the band.

I think I see you!  And then . . . . . . the lights go off!  Everyone out of their chairs for the promenade.

Can you hear the crickets?  Listen, the dog’s name is Rupert and someone’s going to say Hi to him . . .  🙂 It was a beautiful summer night.  Up and down the narrow winding streets everyone goes . . .

The people on the porches love it as much as we do.  They get to people watch; we are the animals in their ever revolving zoo!

People go all out, it’s a gift! And we love them for it! 

Do you believe in magic?

On and on it goes, and then there are the little details . . .

Porches and pillows, screen doors and candlelight, lace curtains and wine glasses. Glimpses into lamplit living rooms and kitchens, cooking smells and clattering dishes.

And I will close with that.  I’d do more, but a.) you need to get back to work, and b.) I’m a little worried.  How many photos and videos can one post handle?  I don’t know.  How is this loading for you?  Do you have to wait forever?  Let me know. Hope you enjoyed Illumination Night, pretty soon you’ll have the whole picture of life on Martha’s Vineyard! Where the elves run ahead setting up little scenes just for your enjoyment, and the BIG elf, comes along behind and takes pictures of it.  xoxo

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179 Responses to Illumination Night

  1. Candice says:

    Thank you for sharing that — it’s amazing! I would love to be able to see that in person. Reminds me of summers at my Nana’s in Vermont!!

  2. Good Morning Susan!
    I was following your videos live last night as you posted on Twitter. This brings back such good memories of visiting with my cousins. I have experienced the sing along at the campgrounds (but not on Illumination Night, sadly). I remember singing out with gusto, and enjoying all the people participating- all ages- no one holding back. Such a wonderful memory, it almost brought tears to my eyes watching it all on your little videos. I can only wish that others may get the chance to visit and join in. Thank you, thank you for the wonderful memory.

    FOSB 4-Ever,

  3. Joan Lesmeister says:

    I loved every minute of it, and it loaded quickly! You photographed the details perfectly (even the quilt on the bed), and Rupert posed nicely, he was a good boy! It was all magical and heavenly, I’m so glad you invited us to join you! Thank you! xo and ♥

    • sbranch says:

      So glad to hear about the loading quickly! Hope it’s that way for everyone! Glad you enjoyed it Joan!

      • Jane Alexander says:

        It loaded instantly for us. Yea!! A similar place exists in Ocean Grove New Jersey. A Methodist campground also with a huge wooden tabernacle for worship and events. I’ve attended before in the summer. And there are precious cottages families have rented for years. But they are not like these, but a small square, with a porch that comes down in the winter. They ARE charming, and so fun to see.

        • mari1017 says:

          I used to sing every year at the Ocean Gove Choir Festival in July – those were amazing! The tabernacles and the house are similar – do you still visit OG? Has it changed over the years?

      • CAROL O. says:

        no problem with the loading Susan….Its there when we log on…and just scroll down happily….thank you….

  4. Coni says:

    How absolutely charming! Martha’s Vineyard just keeps getting more and more magical with every post. Thank you for taking us along for the ride.

    BTW … I had absolutely no problem loading the page, so keep ’em coming! We can’t get enough!!!

  5. Country Gal says:

    Fantastic post and photos ! Great info ! I love the houses , Papa here is going to make gingerbread for our front porch he loves to wood work in his shop as a hobby.
    I would of loved to see all that and be there and that you have done for me in this post thanx ! Have a wonderful day !

  6. Janet says:

    Hi Susan, This was such a nice gift. I visited the Campground about 4 or 5 years ago. It was like finding a treasure – so peaceful and beautiful. I read about Illumination Night in a book, Unbroken Circles -The Campground of Martha’s Vineyard. I have even attempted to do a painting of one of the cottages.
    I think I need to go back someday for another visit 🙂
    Janet XOXO

  7. Judy C in NC says:

    Oh, Susan – thank you so much for your blog post – I travel through others and had no idea of this annual event. The love of this celebration and that it is rooted in history is so positive and up lifting to me. There is just so much ‘happy’ shining through every light, candle, smile and greeting. Elements of life in a very wonderful place. A truly wonderful thing. Judy C in NC

  8. Janet says:

    Oh, the pictures did load quickly! I enjoyed every bit of the magic. Thank you!!!

  9. Kathleen Gettens says:

    Loved this and it downloaded very quickly. Last fall my daughter and I were on Martha’s Vineyard and took the bus all around the island,getting off at each stop to explore. Now I know the history of the Tebernacle. So interesting!Thank you for sharing. You are so blessed to enjoy the Vineyard each year! Love everything you do.I own it all, calendars, books, stickers, stationary,etc and can’t wait for your pancakes new book! You brighten my everyday with your art.

  10. queenmum says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you so much for this post. I loved every photo and video…and Rupert can join our pack any time! The night TRULY seems magical. You are wonderful for sharing with all of us. By the way, everything on your blog page loads beautifully every time. Thanks again!

  11. Reneelynn says:

    Susan, love your blog. Everything loaded fast and there were no problems. Don’t worry about too many pictures……we LOVE the pictures ! Looks like everyone had a wonderful time. Here in MI we have community sings at the beginning of some of the local fairs and I remember going as a child………..brings back memories 🙂

  12. Lin says:

    You did it again – started my day with a BIG SMILE!! Thanks for a look at this magical place! Oh that this tradition never dies!

    Oh, and I had no loading problems, keep those pictures coming!! Hugs!

  13. Sheryle Towle says:

    Thank you for sharing this magical night! Makes me feel young again & believing in fairies! Thought of you yesterday as we strolled through the Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor… would love it there. Have you been?

  14. Nellie says:

    How I wish to be in Oak Bluffs for this event! Last fall, visiting this site was one of the priorities on our list, and we have pictures standing in front of the Tabernacle. Being United Methodists, the history of the Campground is of great interest to us. Thank you for sharing the beauty of this place from last night!

  15. DebbieS says:

    I love my “visits” with you in the morning, Susan, before I leave for work. But Illuminations made this a particularly lovely start to my day! Thank you so much.

  16. Jeannie M from NC says:

    Thank you Susan for inviting us to Illumination Night! What a special evening of fellowship and friendship! You found a magical place when you moved to Martha’s Vineyard! There is absolutely no problem with downloading. Among all your many talents, you are a great photographer! Love your new blog and feel so welcome here!
    p.s. We have been to Cape Cod for a surprise birthday week, but missed the chance to get to the Vineyard!
    Next time!

  17. Sharon Calvert says:

    (BIG smile)…thanks so much for this post! I’ve been enchanted by this event since I first read about it on your site. Yesterday I just happened to come across some small lanterns on season clearance and bought four of them, came home to look up the date of Illumination Night, and spontaneously decided to have my own miniature celebration simultaneously! My mind’s eye envisioned the actual goings-on at the Vineyard, so your videos have brought closure! Now I hope to add to my collection and plan ahead for next year…it’s just a delightful idea.

    • Sharon Calvert says:

      Oh, I forgot to add that when I purchased The Summer Book several years ago, it came boxed with eight luminaria bags which I can add to my celebration…

  18. Jane says:

    What an absolutely magical place! I would love to visit your island some day, Susan. But for now, I’ll have to be content to hanging some lanterns and have my own personal illumination night.

  19. Deb Surman says:

    Dear Susan, I hope you know how much we appreciate all the time and effort you’ve put into your blog. It’s so enjoyable to read and, like Anne of Green Gables, I feel a real kindred spirit here among your followers. We’re all so alike and share so many interests, imaging the fun it would be to have us all together somewhere – what a sisterhood we’ve become in such a short time. Illumination Night seems like a beautiful celebration of fellowship and I’m sure the founding Methodists who came in their tents and built their little cottages are up in heaven smiling and happy at what they created.

  20. Joy says:

    What a beautiful post! I had no trouble at all with pictures and videos downloading. Makes me feel like I was there, and wish that I really was! Love your blog so much, Susan. You have the magic touch, seeing beauty in everything around you.

  21. dawn says:

    My heart breaks every time I hear The Star Spangled Banner….it always makes me miss America terribly!

    This was absolutely enchanting. Thank you so much for sharing!!


  22. Oh Susan, this is wonderful. I love all the lights and charm filled streets and homes. Yes, you are living the dream life and thanks for sharing that with us. It is so nice to look forward to each post. Keep it up and thank you!!!!

  23. laurie says:

    No wonder its such a popular spot, a littlepiece of heaven.Thankyou so much for sharing these photos and say thankyou to the kind elves that made this all possible.

  24. Suzanne says:

    What an enjoyable moment in time for me and for all your readers. Everything loaded quickly. I do hope you are able to enjoy your moments and don’t worry too much about your readers. I’m sure this could take it’s toll. Be good to yourself.

  25. Anita says:

    Thanks for sharing a small part of this magical evening with us. My eyes were moist, watching the videos–loved that you included Rupert–A lovely way to begin the morning today.

  26. Becky says:

    Loved, loved, loved it. It was magic! Thanks Susan.

  27. Suzanne says:

    No problem loading page, so lovely and colorful to see… reminded me of the movie Tangled (Disney) when the lanterns are released into the sky from the castle, so pretty. I’m so attracted to gingerbread on the houses too, I have it on my front porch, just love sitting out there with my coffee in the morning watching the hummingbirds go from one hanging impatient plant to another. It’s my little haven for all the seasons.

  28. Christina says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful post…if you’re ever at the Jersey shore, head to Ocean Grove, it has its roots also as a Methodist Camp Meeting; also has beautiful little “tent” cottages with a little front porch, the tent, and then the little cottage area…I don’t know if there’s an Illumination Night but they also have the Grand Auditorium for wonderful music, all types! They call it “God’s Square Mile”, I believe…it’s on the edge of the ocean and is quite beautiful.

  29. Peggy Cooper says:

    Loaded easily – check. Beautiful photos and story – check. The start to another wonderful summer day – check. Thanks for all you do :o)

  30. Joan says:

    Oh Susan – thank you SO much for the pictures and videos of my favorite event on the Vineyard. I’ve been going there for 60+ years and every time I go to Illumination Night I’m transported back into an 8 year old.
    I wasn’t there this year but around 9pm when I figured the lanterns would be lit I sat and watched the video I made at Illumination Night in 2000. I still have trouble with the Swiss Army song and John Brown’s Baby but I keep trying.

    Everything loaded quickly, I had no problems only that there should be MORE of your beautiful pictures.
    Thank you so much for letting us that couldn’t be there share in the magical night of illumination.

  31. Mar Bailey says:

    Enchanting! Loved all the photos and videos…made me feel I was “along for the ride”. Thank you Susan, for sharing your life with us. xxoo

  32. Melissa Olson says:

    I love your posts Susan! And no worries….I have one of the slo-w-est computers in the world, but I still have no trouble with loading the pictures on your blogs. Thank you for sharing island life with the rest of us! 🙂

  33. Jan says:

    Wonderful! I was raised Methodist. What a great little piece of history. Loved the sites and scenes.! I really enjoy getting to know all about Martha’s Vineyard through your eyes to ours. Thanks !

  34. Rosemary says:

    That was fantastic! Loved seeing the actual Illumination Night. When I was there with my friends in 2003, we did not get to see the lit up wonder world but did visit the little cottages and the tabernacle and bought a book about it all. Your pics and videos are lovely! Yes, small-town America. Hooray!

  35. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Good Morning Sweet Sue…Illumination Night is Amazing! I Do Believe in Magic…I heard The Summer night ♫ song of Those Crickets…Rupert was Cute..Woof! all Those Cottages seemed truly Enchanted…I Loved the Sing~A~Long ♫….as for all Your Videos & Photos they load Fast & Easy so you are doing an Excellent Job Miss Elf & I Thank You so Much for taking us along on all Your Adventures on Your Island…Hey I read that The President & His Family are arriving Today on Martha’s Vineyard for another Summer Vacation! Last year I remember You telling us he Passed right by your House! Very Exciting…wishing You a Sizzling Summer Day Sweet Sue & Joe & Kitty! Meow! xoxo Poof!♫♥♫♥ 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Yes he did, I can always tell when a President is about to pass by; police sort of nonchalantly show up outside my studio window, I can hear their radios…kind of a good hint since otherwise they’re never there!

  36. Pat Mofjeld says:

    I’ve got to join everyone else in thanking you for “taking us along” last evening. Wow–it was spectacular! Thanks for sharing the sights, sounds, and your impressions. It does look like magic! Fun to be an armchair traveler to Martha’s Vineyard–there are so many of us that will never get there but, thanks to you, we have a “feel” for the life there…Thanks! 🙂

  37. Marilyn says:

    What a beautiful and special night! I hope this yearly tradition continues forever. The soft glow of luminarias, paper lanterns, candles….well, it truly is magical!

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  38. Marilyn says:

    Oh…one more thing!

    Is Illumination Night held on the same day each year? If so, is there a special significance to August 17th?

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

    • sbranch says:

      The date changes, it’s always a little mysterious as to what day it will be on …. But it’s always the middle of August …

  39. KarenW says:

    Wonderful! No problem with the loading. Of course my office is getting use to my tears as I star at my computer…Always cry with the Star Spangle Banner. So proud to be part of this Great Nation! And I think I will copy cat the Lanterns for Halloween and maybe NewYears to decorate my Front Porch…so magical.
    Thank you

    • Wendy says:

      And here I thought I was the only one who tears up when the National Anthem is played! So fortunate to live in such a wonderful country. It thrilled me to see all those folks with hands on hearts and at the end the girl in front with arms in the air in celebration. Fantastic…. Thanks for sharing Susan!

  40. Emily says:

    ok really I think our next vacation needs to be at Martha’s Vineyard! some many fun things to see and explore. thanks for the phots I love them. it brought a little shot of happiness to my crazy morning:)

  41. Carolyn Ann says:

    Thank you, Susan for the wonderful stroll. The lanterns were beautiful. Just loved the little cottages. That has to be so much fun for everyone. The videos were very well done & they loaded quickly. So what will you do tonight?

  42. Jackie says:

    No problem on loading….loved Rupert! I’ll say it again…we all want to move to your place!

  43. Claire says:

    How cool was that? Thanks for taking us along for the evening!

  44. peg says:

    Beautiful! Oo0o0OO, to take part in a country pleasure like that!!! (btw…that last picture….that is MY front porch!!!! I’d recognize that wine glass anywhere!). ♥

  45. Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

    What??? That’s all?? I WANT MORE!!!! Its so beautiful! enchanting! cozy! and FRIENDLY! I just wanted to crawl into the pictures and become apart of it 🙂 I love the “sneak peaks” into the cottages – loved the quilt on the bed! Once again, you bring a little of your world into ours. Bless you! XOXO On to another great day!

  46. Julie Baker says:

    Thank you! Thank you! This is so uplifting and magical! I want to go see it! I want to have something like that on my front porch, although I live in a log house!
    Oh, and I had no trouble with the site. Downloaded fast!
    Thank you, again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. Jane says:

    Loved it! I feel like I’ve just taken a mini vacation with you!! What fun!

  48. kidsrn says:

    what a beautiful summer night! a snapshot of true america. thank you so much for
    sharing the evening and the pics. they loaded in a blink. i love the ginerbread and the paint and the lights and the quilts. i love your books and your posts are like lil
    miniture booklets.
    have a fabulous magical creative day.

  49. Connie says:

    Thanks for another lovely walk-around. The pictures are gorgeous, the videos brought me even closer to being there. No problem with loading — I’m ready for more.

  50. Ann Y. says:

    THANK YOU so much for sharing….beautiful, inspirational….thanks for being such an elf !!!

  51. Sandra Gillanders says:

    So nice to hear story of Illumination Night and how it got started. It IS magical. Sure some faries were dancing under the moon that night. Lanterns and music and folks visiting, just bliss. Each house is so charming and love all the lanterns of every size and color. Town near us does similiar event during the holidays, it so wonderful. Something magical happens in the dark lit only by lanterns. All your videos were easy to use and never too many pictures. xoxox

  52. Bonnie Alexander says:

    Thanks for posting this! I loved being part of it…even way out here in Colorado! Would love to see it sometime, sounds and looks wonderful 🙂
    Thanks again!

  53. Carolyn russett says:

    Loved this! Now I want to go next year. Need to make reservations to stay someplace!! So I can stay overnight and enjoy!

  54. K. F. Ross says:

    The lanterns are beautiful. Are they strung with electrical mini-lights? They look like a fairy land. Are they readily available to purchase? Never saw them actually used. So pretty.

  55. Joni says:

    WOW! The Illumination Night!
    Great Susan Branch documentary! It was a different world! …Creativity…Historical…Godly!
    Unique celebration..nothing like California’s history of (cowboys and Indians)
    I treasure all your drawings, your detailed description with lots of adjectives and adverbs. 🙂 Because of you, my loving husband has taken me to Martha’s Vineyard for an anniversary trip many years ago. We loved it! Drove down the streets seeing the “gingerbread” cottages, by your home, noticed every dog was black, ate at the yummy Mad Martha’s ice cream shop, Bought dozens of postcards, went back to a romantic Bed and Breakfast, ate fresh seafood.. LOVED IT. We might have missed it if you had not delivered such a wonderful words, drawings and pictures in ALL your books.
    This post brought all those great memories back. Hope you know every one who sees this will want to hop the next plane to get there <3 BIG THANKS!

  56. Dyana says:

    Very beautiful! Awwww the joy’s of a small town 🙂

  57. Donna says:

    Susan, you are such a blessing! You have totally raised my spirits today, and believe me, they needed lifting. Thank you!!!

  58. mari1017 says:

    OMG! OMG! OMG!!!!!!!!! That was fantastic – and fast loading 🙂 I can’t thank you enough (don’t know how to make hearts on PC, only laptop, sorry!) I will watch this over and over – so glad the IT guy is still on vacation 🙂

    I know you love California, but MV is such a magical place – it must be very difficult to leave, even for the best of reasons 🙂

  59. Laura Jenkins says:

    God Bless America! And singing together! And tradition! Thank you for sharing this amazing event. And Rupert! xo

  60. Vicki says:

    How lovely! I would love to start something like that here in Fairhope, AL!!

    • Marilyn says:


      I’ve been to Fairhope and loved it! It’s such a beautiful, quaint town. I particularly loved the dockside area around the bay.

      I definitely could see an illumination festival in Fairhope. 🙂

      Marilyn (in Dallas)

  61. Jamie Willow says:

    It loaded in a flash for me 🙂 add all the pictures you’d like!

    Lovely, and the answer is YES! I do believe in magic 🙂

  62. Rosemarie says:

    Thank you for sharing. I have participated several times in a choral festival at another old Methodist campground–Ocean Grove, NJ. Same type of town except they built around the tent city that surrounds the Great Auditorium, not in place of it. The tents are still there, in all their pastel colored glory and their owners still spend their vacations there. There is a town square and an original chapel and the atmosphere makes you feel as if you are in a movie like “Music Man” or “Hello Dolly”. I have not been there for a few years but after seeing your blog I am planning to visit soon. We may just visit the vineyard, also. Thank you for all the good feelings you inspire. Life can be tough and we sometimes get so wrapped up in the mundane and the drudgery of every day life. It is so nice to be able to read a “Williard” or your blog and get lost in a bit of magic.

  63. Jody Gray says:

    Coming to Martha’s Vineyard one day is my ultimate dream…. Thank you so much for bringing the island to me. It is magical and so simply serene. Thanks again, Susan…..LOVE your BLOG!!!!!

    • Margie @ Lavender Cottage says:

      Jody: I also have this dream. Your words describe it perfectly…magical and so simply serene. I hope I get there sometime soon!!

  64. Jennie says:

    Hello big elf!

    That you for delivering presents to us all, no matter where we are. I love how full of joy and community your corner is! Magic for sure. Magic in that there are still places were people greet eachother, sing our national anthem with pride, and rejoice over beauty and light.
    Oh, how I want to move and be part of it! Maybe someday . . . dreams have been known to come true! 🙂

  65. Sweet Mormor says:

    Being disabled I would never have a chance to experience this wonderful celebration without your efforts – thank you so much Susan – I miss doing things like this – but your photos let me do the next best thing! So very much appreciated – bless you!

  66. I have a slow connection here at my lakeside cottage and your photos all came through nice and quick!

    I have a dog just like Rupert! Cavalier King Charles Spaniels make the BEST pets, other than not liking being alone.

    Thanks for these photos. I feel like I was there!

    (Btw, the word “tabernacle” is one of the worst swear words you can use here in Quebec! It made me giggle every time you used it! Is it a word for a church tent??)

  67. Gloria Groza says:

    Love, Love, Love it! I have dial-up and I could see all the pictures except the last 2. Couldn’t watch the videos though, but I could imagine. Thank you! That was a gift!

  68. Dya says:

    Ohhh sigh…. thank you so much for sharing. I love reading this post and watched the pictures several times.
    I had never heard of this tradition. Are these cottages only used this time of year, of during other holidays as well?
    Think I’m going to admire them again :-)).

  69. Nancy says:

    Love your post. I could have done with a lot more pictures. Can you send more? Reminds me a bit of Pacific Grove, CA


  70. Carol Lichwala (gramz) says:

    Susan, What a magical night! I love the beautiful lights and seeing everyone so happy. I would love to see all your pictures that you took. They loaded fast for me.
    Thank you so much for keeping us in your life. It sure is a bright spot in mine.

  71. Linda L. Seidel says:

    What a beautiful gift you’ve given me, Susan! I grew up spending summer’s at Mt. Gretna, another Methodist Campmeeting community, in Central Pennsylvania. We also had the Japanese paper lanterns on most of the porches, beautiful wicker or twig furniture on the porches of the cottages, and wonderful evenings chatting with friends in the evening after an afternoon swimming and canoeing at the lake. On the 4th of July, the Chatauqua side of the community hosted a candlelighting ceremony, and only the older children could light the candles in the holders on the trees, tennis courts, paths, etc. It was a fairyland, and although no fireworks were permitted, we did light sparklers on stones in front of our cottages. Penny candy, popsicles, making crafts at the playground, reading LOTS of books, and catching minnows in the stream that fed the lake, were great fun. Playing Mother May I?, Red Light Green Light, and shadow tag were great fun after dark until we were called in to get ready for bed. No TV in our cottage. As I got older, I would save my money to buy the August issue of Seventeen Magazine, to see the new fashions my friends might be wearing at school that Autumn. And, as much as I loved summer, the anticipation of cooler weather and wearing wool skirts and sweater sets, helped me go back to my other home until we’d go back to Mt. Gretna for sledding. 🙂 Although I missed coming up to Nantucket to visit my sister at her home this summer, your beautiful blog and photos took me on a wonderful vacation at my computer. Thank you!

  72. Hi Susan!
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful evening with us!! The pictures have inspired me to put more time aside to enjoy my front porch and bring some of that magic to my neighborhood! You have a beautiful blog♥E

  73. Nina says:

    O Susan that was truely magical! I have been lucky enough and have seen the gingerbread cottages in the flesh. (Not on this night though!) I brought loads of postcards of them and they are hangng in my guest room as a reminder of the best trip I ever had with my best friend Gaynor!
    Thank you so much you are so kind to share! Also I have to say I didn’t have to wait at all for the piccies to download, now isn’t that magical considering I’m 4000 miles away accross the pond! xxxx

  74. KJ says:

    Love….Love ….Love ….Thanks so much for sharing with us….and it loaded instantly. !!! Maybe next year we’ll be able to make it up there !!!

  75. Donna Hamilton says:

    Oh, that is like having Christmas lights in the middle of summer! Just a lovely sight to see. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. I think that in the near future the Martha’s Vineyard Tourism Board will be able to say that tourism has increased to the island just because of Susan Branch and her Blog!!!!!!
    I think I will now go out and shop for some lanterns and luminarias and plan on decorating my porch……but that will have to wait until some of the Mosquitos around here go away–should happen about November! Illumination night for the beginning of advent sounds like a great idea!

  76. cindy says:

    Hi Susan! I absolutely love your videos and the illumination was the best yet! Have you ever considered painting the porches with their beautiful lanterns? I’ll bet your watercolors would be so soft and beautiful and a continual reminder of a quintessential summer night in new England. Thanks for taking the time to “illuminate” my day today!

  77. Margie @ Lavender Cottage says:

    Susan: Once again, thanks for sharing. One more reason to want to spend some time at in your neck of the woods. I live in a big city, which I love, but hope, one day, to end up in small town USA!

  78. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you. I just shared with a co-worker who has had the experience of this event and it has brought back so many wonderful memories for her. Thanks for being a bright spot in our day. You have NO IDEA what a day!! God love you Susan. Keep it up. Some days — well alot of days — you ARE the JOY!!!!

  79. Francine says:

    Wow Susan! That was so enjoyable. Who knew that this went on? I’m kind of stuck near home being a caregiver to my husband, but I can travel through you! I’d love, love, love to get to the east coast!!! And…following one of your other posts – I stopped in at a tiny little flea market last Saturday near my house, and bought two darling vintage kitchen towels and a 40’s tablecloth, I had to clean up my whole kitchen and them put them on display! I’m loving them! Thanks again….a beauitful sight, to be sure.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s what happens to me; I find something adorable, then I have to make the rest of the place adorable to match it!

  80. Gert says:

    Oh Susan I don’t think your magical island can get any better & then you post something to beautiful like this!!! Thank you so much for the lovely tour!!

    Your videos loaded quickly for me!! Funny note when the little dog barked Rusty went running through the house trying to find that dog!!! If he only knew he was in MV…lol

    Thank you once again for the magic!!!

  81. Susan says:

    That was amazing and magical!

  82. Beth says:

    Oh I love it! It is so beautiful and it’s wonderful to learn of a new tradition! Makes me want to pack my bags and become your neighbor so I can go on fun adventures with you 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!

  83. Michelle A says:

    OMG! I just love that! Have you ever seen a place where you feel like you just belong there, thats how that made me feel. So charming and magical. I hope I am lucky enough to see it in person one day. Thanks for giving us a peek. What a wonderful place and event.

  84. Kim Wright says:

    Thank you sooooo much for sharing this with us! A more lovely night, I couldn’t imagine. How wonderful it must be to not only visit this magical place, but to live their as well!

    Thanks again!

  85. Ann says:

    It does look a little like Christmas! I was fortunate to see those cottages one year (not during Illumination, though). They are beautiful just by themselves. Thanks for bringing us along, Susan!

  86. Barbie Tabb says:

    1) no downloading issues whatsoever! none 🙂
    2) LOVED it…very special, beautiful, graceful, peaceful….enchanting!
    3) Our village has an annual event called Tiki Night. Every year on July 3rd ON the lake! we live in Wolverine Lake Village and probably 85% of the residents live on the lake. On Tiki Night all of us have parties – eat dinner then quick, like a bunny, get out on the boat and get on the lake. every lakefront home has tiki torches lit along the shore spaced about 10 ft apart and circling the lake and as the night goes on it because magical – the flickering torches and the smooth dark surface of the water. But, wait, there’s more! We have a Village-sponsored fireworks show – HUGE – launched from barges anchored in the center of the lake. Some (like me!) prefer to be as close as I can get, others stay close to the shore. Many homes have GIANT parties with D.J.s and live bands and hundreds of guests, weddings, graduation parties, etc. We are approaching 30 years of Tiki Night. Most of the kids who grew up on the lake make sure they return to their parents’ homes for the occasion…and the kids like to tie the boats together to make huge connected party barges. It is wild and sometimes downright scary. We have a blanket that we must bring out on the boat “The Blanket” — complete with holes – from a firework that dropped flaming embers and set the blanket on fire! It was fun and we have to always talk about the time the blanket caught fire and we had to throw it overboard to put out the flames. I try to invite a new guest each year for the boat just to get their reaction. we have a invitation list with guests who are always invited each year, and then of course you never know how many drop-ins will magically show up at dinner time! this year we had 35!! (18 for the pontoon boat, the rest jumped on neighbor’s boats or watched from shore) Maybe I’ll look for paper lanterns in red/white/blue for next year’s Tiki Night.

    • jean lucci says:

      So wonderful to see! I remember being on the Vineyard with my children and attending the Illumination. Just a beautiful sight. I miss it.

  87. Virginia says:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful evening! The photos and videos really capture the magic. I’ve been fortunate over the years to live in small towns and cities that have their own special events, usually centered around Christmas and/or 4th of July. They are always so fun to be a part of. Hurray for small-town USA!

    I am definitely going to have to make it to Martha’s Vineyard sometime in the future, but I think I’ll opt for fall, my favorite time of the year. I have this dream vacation that I am always fine-tuning in my head. Now it will include your beautiful island. What a beautiful place to live! Sigh…

  88. Ginny S. says:

    We were just at the Campground last Saturday and it was wonderful! We went into the little store in one of the house and they were selling the most magnificent lanterns. I think for man-made structures I was enthralled by the Campground. I am rather small and these homes are adorable! They are “my size” The double doors on the second floor was so that the furniture could be brought into the buildings. One nice man was outside as I took a photo of his home and he told me it was his. I said I just loved this “neighborhood”! And the “tent” meeting structure was incredible and looking in I saw all these vintage chairs! A real highlight for our first Vineyard trip. Oh, the tour guide told us the homes generally stay in the family but currently the selling price is $400,000. Cute.

  89. Noelle says:

    Oh, how wonderful! Thank you for sharing it with us! 🙂

  90. Rae Ann Roche says:

    The pictures of Martha’s Vineyard reminds me of an area across Little Traverse Bay/in northern Michigan called Bay View…it began as a chautaugua community and the cottages are all ginger-bready and victorian…they offer classes in music and the arts and have lights and lanterns on the porches just like in MV…thanks for sharing…

  91. Carol says:

    How FUN was THAT! Thanks for the sharing.

  92. Rita Goshorn says:

    great pix! and no problem opening the blog with all those photos. thanx for sharing this ….. would never have an opportunity to see it myself.

  93. Betty T says:

    What a beautiful post!! Thank you so much, Susan, for sharing a fantastic event with all of us. Martha’s Vineyard sounds like a place I’d like to visit some day. Your photos and videos download with no problems.

  94. Laura Croyle says:

    WOW!! Incredibly Ahhhmazing!!! What Fun!! Absolutley L-O-V-E-D it!!! What a privilege to part of such a community! Just what small-town America should be like. Thanks Soooo much for sharing it all with us. No problem downloading it all.

  95. Jean says:

    I bet it was just magical that night! There’s a place in TN that is similar (Monteagle Sunday School Assembly). I love to drive through that community. Just makes me smile. Slow living… Peace and quiet. Love it!

  96. Debbie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such an enchanting evening. Love all the lanterns and the porches. No problem with the photos. You take amazing pictures “Big Elf”. Thank you again. Looking forward to the next blog.

  97. Nan says:

    Almost felt like I was there! I love small towns – used to live in one and I miss it! I made your carrot cake again today, for like the 50th time in 10 years…it is, by far, the best dang carrot cake on the planet! And quite possibly the universe!
    Thanks! xo, Nan

  98. CarolK says:

    Thank you Susan for the lovely, lovely pictures. They were instantly on my screen, no problem. Ray and I saw the cottages some years back when we daytripped to MV being we were timesharing on the Cape. It was September and the weather was beautiful. Since we didn’t bring our vehicle over on the ferry we only got to see the highlights of the island on a mini tour bus. We then spent a few hours exploring the cottages and village before our return ferry ride back to the Cape. What an enchanting island. We’ve explored just about every inch of the Cape so next time we plan on spending more time on MV
    exploring the beaches and back roads. Cheers….

  99. Sandra Davidson says:

    Hi Susan I am new to your blog and I am really enjoying it. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and video, no trouble loading at all. I would love to be there for that celebration. Thanks Sandra

  100. Karen Z says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing such a lovely night!

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