Tens of Chinese lanterns of enchanting bright colors, worked down to the smallest detail, with heights of over 20 meters, can be admired in the Open air museum at Dumbrava Sibiului from June 23 to August 4. The event is organized during the Sibiu International Theatre Festival and, for the first time ever, the Zigong Haitian Culture Co.,Ltd will travel to Romania to set up the Chinese lantern Festival – Lantern Festival.
A century-old tradition, celebrated by the Han Dynasty during 206 BC and 221 AD, the lantern festival illustrates scenes from Chinese history and mythology. “It includes a total of 20 types of lanterns and the main themes are Chinese culture, natural elements, animals, planets and flowers”, explains Suzie Zhong, International Business Development Manager of the company.
Zigong Haitian Culture Co.,Ltd is one of the main global cultural operators and producers of lanterns in China. The company was founded in 1998 and it organizes various exhibitions of light structures, Chinese lantern exhibitions, lanterns that float on water and landscapes created using light.
How this tradition was born
At the beginnings of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the Emperor, who was a Buddhist, heard that on the 15th of every month Buddhist monks would light lanterns in the temple. Thus, he decided to order every household, temple and palace to light lanterns on that day. Since then, people get together on the night of the lantern festival to celebrate, to eat tangyuan – a rice dessert made specifically for this event, to participate in riddles or to see and practice the lion dance. However, the main activity during this event are the lanterns and their appreciation. During the festival, lanterns of different shapes and sizes can be found everywhere – from households, to malls, parks and streets. And the children walk around carrying small lanterns.
The light structures are worked out to the smallest detail and they can reach a height of 20 meters and a length of up to 100 meters. The festivals of this type maintain their authenticity around the world and they can attract between 150.000 and 200.000 participants of all ages. In Sibiu, the event will start on the last day of the Sibiu International Theatre Festival, June 23, and it will last until August 4. Besides the lantern exhibition, it will also include a culinary programme with authentic Chinese delicatessens during June 23-28.
“In order to create a lantern festival, we first have to think of a design according to the location of the event and we must then select the appropriate light structures. The colors must be bright and they must look stunning”, Suzie tells me when I ask her about how such an event is prepared. “Lantern festivals are appreciated everywhere and they double, if not even triple, the number of participants at a certain event, compared to the same period, but without lanterns.” she also says.
In Sibiu, we will see the Scent of Lotus – a structure representing lotus flower bulbs in combinations of pink and green, which float on water, the Greeting Gate – a high gate of five meters that illustrates several classical Chinese motifs, the Greeting from Phoenix – an illustration of the significance of Phoenix birds, Frog Croaking – a nocturnal landscape that floats on water, Love of Fish – five archways with fish in the middle, Dragon – a 20 meters long structure of a dragon, Four Season – four hourglasses through which the four seasons are dripping, Panda Land – structure with many panda bears among colored bamboo reeds, Spirit of Chinese Lantern – a five-meter tall structure with Chinese symbols, Monkey – installation representing a landscape with monkeys, Magical Night and Insect’s Concert – structures with over 30 types of mushrooms and insects ranging from 1.5 to 4 meters, Blooming Day and Flower Passage – structures that illustrate flowery landscapes, Penguin’s Whisper and Polar Bear – arctic landscapes with penguins and panda bears, Fairy Deer representing a fairytale landscape with deer, Sea World – landscape that illustrates the world of the sea with many, many colors, Parrots’ Whisper – illustration of a structure with parrots in bird cages and Peacock – 8 x 3 meters representation of a peacock.
“These wonderful and colorful structures will illuminate the Sibiu International Theatre Festival and will attract many visitors”, Suzie tells me. “It is an excellent way to bring joy and happiness to people, to bring families and friends together.”
Chinese lantern festivals are very popular all around the world. Each time, the audience reaction matches the amplitude of the event. On social media people confess that the experiences created by the Zigong Haitian Culture Co., Ltd. lantern festivals are dream-like.
Although this will be their first time in Romania, Suzie Zhong declares that their participation at FITS this year will represent only the first step in building a long-lasting relationship with the Sibiu International Theatre Festival. “We can make this festival more colorful, more joyful, more attractive to visitors”, she tells me.
Organizers in Romania: “Radu Stanca” National Theatre in Sibiu; Sibiu International Theatre Festival; ASTRA National Museum Complex; Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Romania
Organizers from China: Zigong Haitian Culture Co., Ltd., Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China
Partners: Sibiu City Council through the Sibiu City Hall; Sibiu County Council; the “Sibiu European Gastronomy Region 2019” Programme; “Lucian Blaga” University in Sibiu; Confucius Institute in Sibiu; UniCredit Bank