It’s just not Christmas without packing up the kids and heading out to check out one of the many sparkling light displays around town. For the second year, Dallas Fair Park has presented a new take on the holiday illumination enthusiasm with the Chinese Lantern Festival. The Chinese Lantern Festival comprises a collection made of brilliantly colored silk cloth that is artfully designed in 24 displays representing Chinese culture and customs. Construction of this original light display originated in China, where a team of more than 100 artisans and technical staff did preliminary work in Sichuan, the cradle of Chinese lantern-making. When the sun goes down, the lanterns are illuminated in a vibrant display that brings a unique union of Eastern and Western celebration traditions.
As much as it is a beautiful and relaxing stroll throughout the candy-colored scenes, the Festival is also an opportunity to learn more about the Chinese culture. Each scene is accompanied by informative panels that provide commentary and background information about the piece. In addition to walking amid the lanterns, visitors can watch live acrobatic shows, see folk artists create unique handcrafts, and taste authentic Chinese foods treats. With these cultural sidebars, the festival is a fun way to explore the ancient art of lantern making with a modern twist.
Imperial Dragon Boat~The Centerpiece of the Festival
Highlights of the Festival Include:
A treasury of Buddhist sculptures and paintings spanning 10 centuries is found along the Silk Road in northwest China, including a depiction of the “Apsaras” in hundreds of caves and grottos near the Dunhuang House. These pixie-like creatures take the form of beautiful women, and are shown here presenting peonies to one another.
This exquisite pagoda is composed of 68,000 ceramic plates, spoons, cups, and bowls to create a soaring 52 foot high display that mimics the size and structure of the ‘White Pagoda’ found in the remote Yunnan province. Built over 800 years ago in 1204, the ornate Buddhist temple that inspired this lantern is adorned with intricate carvings and nine spires that are topped with copper chimes. The chimes gently tinkle in the breeze, inviting anyone within earshot to a time of reflection.
New Year, Old Customs
Convergences of centuries old customs are playfully depicted in this cheerful scene. Children sporting ancient hairstyles and costumes are celebrating the New Year with fireworks, lanterns, and music. The children are a 3-D representation of the custom of displaying a plump child in the home as a symbol of prosperity for the next generation. Goldfish are shown along with the children, another New Year’s tradition. The Mandarin word for goldfish sounds identical to the word Good Luck, making it a perfect guardian for the year to come.
Tulips of Thanksgiving
During World War II, the Dutch Royal family was forced to escape the Nazi occupation by fleeing to Ottawa, Ontario. While in Canada, Princess Juliana was due to give birth, so to maintain royal succession, Canada declared the maternity ward to be International Territory. In thanks for this generosity and the aid provided by Canada to liberate their country, the Netherlands has gifted Ottawa with millions of tulip bulbs. A spring tulip festival in Ottawa each year is a reminder of the connection between these two countries, and is the largest tulip festival in North America.
It is no surprise that butterflies represent youth and beauty in the Chinese culture, but they are also a symbol for long life because the word butterfly in Mandarin rhymes with the word “70.” One surprising fact is that a group of butterflies is known as a rabble.
Pandas are the unofficial mascots of China, with many loans of the cuddly creatures to zoos in North America creating awareness and bridges between the countries. Pandas are native to the Sichuan province where the lanterns for the festival originated.
~Chinese Lantern Festival provided me with complimentary tickets to the festival. They did not require that I express a particular viewpoint and all opinions are my own.~