Several new lanterns will make their inaugural appearance at this weekend’s Christchurch Lantern Festival.
The new lanterns will be located amongst hundreds of others on display at what is one of the city’s biggest cultural festivals attended by thousands of people. It is being held on Saturday 10 March and Sunday 11 March, from 6pm-10pm, in the Ōtākaro Avon River Precinct – following the river and running from Friendship corner (Durham and Lichfield), past the Bridge of Remembrance to Worcester Street and up into Cathedral Square.
The former director of the culture programme at Asia New Zealand Foundation, Jennifer King, has assisted ChristchurchNZ with the lantern purchases and in getting Chinese performers along for the event.
“One that has been commissioned especially for 2018 – which according to the Chinese zodiac is the Year of the Dog – was gifted by Mr Wang Zhijian, the Chinese Consul-General in Christchurch. It is beautiful and features the moon, which symbolises family reunion, a moon gate, a traditional Chinese lady and of course a dog.”
Other new lanterns include a water-based one with frogs and lotus flowers, symbolising purity; a land-based one featuring the dragon dance, traditionally associated with the Chinese New Year; and another depicting a sugar painter, the traditional Chinese art of painting with caramelised sugar.
Jennifer works closely with lantern manufacturer and global operator Haitian Culture Company Ltd in Zigong, China, to source new lanterns each year.
“Zigong is the traditional capital of Chinese lantern making and there are around 300 factories based there producing lanterns, with Haitian factory being in the top five,” she said.
ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Attraction Linda Falwasser said there were also two lanterns that were new to last year’s show which are particularly significant.
“One really symbolises the start of New Zealand’s relationship with China way back when the gold rush happened in the South Island, featuring two Chinese miners panning for gold. The second is a Chinese family enjoying a meal together; a Chinese New Year tradition that will resonate with any Chinese attending the festival.”
Major roadworks are happening in the Central City at present, so festival goers are encouraged to plan ahead and allow extra time to get to and from the event. They should consider cycling, walking, taking public transport or carpooling to the event. There will also be $6 car parking available, just a short walk from the festival site.
Major partners working with ChristchurchNZ to put on this year’s festival include Christchurch City Council, Bank of China, Novo Advertising, Asia New Zealand Foundation and Christchurch International Airport.