So what is a Chinese lantern festival, you might ask. It’s really like no other attraction in Arizona, with fire-breathing dragons, elephants, fish appearing right out of a koi poi, all the size of cars with some even a bit bigger. Made of silk and metal, it seems that they float right by you, but one thing is for sure, they will mesmerize!
It’s part parade, with floats lighting up the night sky, and part festival, with games, activities and cultural foods. A long-standing tradition to welcome in the Chinese New Year, the festival marks the last day of the lunar New Year celebration. The tradition stems back to the Han Dynasty, when villagers would carry beautiful silk lanterns with Chinese riddles imposed on each lantern under a full moon, always married with fireworks and the dance of the dragons or lions to stave off an evil omen of fire about to descend on the Capital city.
The Arizona Chinese Lantern Festival has activities for all ages — Mahjong games and the finales of an on-going tournament; the wishing tree, a Chinese tradition of writing your wish on a ribbon and tying it on the tree in hopes that it will come to fruition and bring good fortune throughout the year; an Asian market with cultural treats, clothing and lanterns; crafts and face painting in the Kids Zone; and, an assortment of cultural foods and adult beverages for the chaperones.
There are two opportunities to take part in the pageantry, February 19-22 or February 26-March 1. It all takes place in Peoria at the Loop 101 Freeway and Thunderbird and you can purchase tickets online or at the gate.
So bring the entire family out to Rio Vista Community Park and enjoy this cultural exchange to learn about ancient China as it’s regarded today through the beauty of art, entertainment, education and fun.
With this Chinese New Year being the year of the sheep, you can bet there will be at least one in the parade lineup to usher in this year’s zodiac animal and horoscope.
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