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Lunar New Year: Vancouver will transform into a magical "lantern city"

The Lantern City invites everyone "to imagine a future where we are Born to be Free." 
Vancouver will have a series of lanterns set up in various locations as part of the LunarFest 2024 celebrations.

A series of magical and fascinating events to ring in the Year of the Dragon are set to take place this month in Vancouver.

LunarFest returns for 2024 with exciting activities and art displays including everything from dazzling lanterns, artist exhibits, craft workshops, a live orchestra, and much more. 

In partnership with the Vancouver International Film Festival Centre, seven Asian films will also be screened where locals can experience Asian culture "with a Vancouver twist."

The Pendulum Gallery is also joining the lineup of iconic lantern installation sites, and the West End BIA and South Granville BIA communities will add to the festivities with unique art installations.

Following the popularity of last year's Taiwan Craft Exhibition, "Island Tribute" will showcase the natural beauty of Taiwan's environment and craft culture on Granville Island. Featuring four artists specializing in fiber weaving, the exhibition invites Canadians to appreciate the significant role nature plays in our aesthetic life. 

The dragon symbolizes authority and nobility in Chinese culture and event organizers hope to embrace "creativity and freedom" in this year's offerings. 

"Vancouver's rich diversity is its strength, and our goal is to guide the community towards forging shared traditions and cultural practices for the future, while also honouring individual cultural heritages," Managing Director Charlie Wu expressed. "We are redefining the traditional symbol of the Year of the Dragon to reflect the essence of an intercultural Canadian society."

"We are inheriting more than just a spirit; this diverse group of global residents, alongside the Indigenous communities, are collaboratively crafting a shared future enriched by their unique splendors."

The Lantern City: We are a family

The areas around the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) feature gatherings year-round for people of all backgrounds, experiences, and ideas, making it an ideal location for the "We are a Family" lanterns. 

The Lantern City invites everyone "to imagine a future where we are Born to be Free." 

The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association will also feature a massive dragon created entirely from organic and biodegradable materials. near the gallery. Luna is described as a "magical moon dragon" who is 10 feet long, 4.5 feet wide, and seven feet tall. 

Nickie Lewis says the dragon "glows at night just like the moon above" but doesn’t hoard jewels or gold. Instead, "Luna likes to hoard wishes!" 

When: Feb. 9 to Feb. 28

Where: šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square / North of the Vancouver Art Gallery - 750 Hornby St.

The Lantern City: Costal Lunar Lanterns

Facing the waters, the Coastal Lunar Lanterns feature Indigenous artists in collaboration with C3 Society, and an Indigenous artist from Taiwan. 

"The artworks are a physical and beautiful bridge across the oceans," according to The Lantern City.

When: Feb. 9 to Feb. 27

Where: Jack Poole Plaza - 1055 Canada Pl.

The Lantern City: Forever Young

The Forever Young lantern series features brightly-coloured lanterns that spark the imagination and "capture the joy of our inner child." The lanterns will be displayed on Granville Island, which is known as a hub for arts and culture in the city. 

 "Let these lanterns remind us to reach freely into the potential within each and every one of us."

When: Feb. 9 to 26

Where: Ocean Artworks, Granville Island - 1531 Johnston St.

The Lantern City: Pendulum Gallery

Right across the "We Are a Family" lanterns near the VAG, the Pendulum Gallery will have its own Lantern City display. This is the first time the gallery has been included in the event and it will feature the works of a Taiwanese Canadian artist who will guide visitors "through cultural practices, identity reinvention, and new ways to view art."

When: Feb. 5 to March 1

Where: Pendulum Gallery - 885 W Georgia St.

VIFF Films: LNY Splash

Celebrate the spirit of family with a selection of films from places including Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and more. LNY Splash has partnered with the Vancouver International Film Festival to bring stories that will "make you cry, laugh, and hold onto your loved ones just a little closer."

When: Feb. 16 to 18, various showtimes

Where: VIFF Centre - 1181 Seymour St

Cost: Varies

LunarFest Concert

The LunarFest Concert will feature an orchestra, harmonia string ensemble, and the rising stars of the West Vancouver Youth Band. A popuar Ukrainian pianist Anna Sagalova will showcase her talents. 

In collaboration with Jade Music Fest, Daniel Lew and Van Lefan will perform some new and older songs.

When: Feb. 13 to 18, from 7:30 to 10 p.m.

Where: Orpheum - 1181 Seymour St 

Cost: Varies. Get tickets.

The Gift of Life

The West End Business Improvement Association encourages people to "look up" when passing by Cardero Street at Robson Street.

"The Gift of Life installation lights up bamboo fish within the trees, allowing them to swim free in the skies."

Fish symbolize prosperity in many Chinese-speaking communities, while salmon is very important to the Indigenous peoples of the West Coast.

Peace & Prosperity for Life

The South Granville Business Improvement Association has a series that incorporates 24 solar terms of the traditional Chinese calendar and decorative window grilles to create lanterns.

The designs follow the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. People can also observe "flowers and plants can be seen growing through the Asian-style grilles." 

The moon also shines on the panels. 

Visual designer Kuan-chih Su says his signature shape is the triangle, and "going to space and soaring through the stars is one of his 'Mission Impossible' goals."

When: Feb. 9 to Feb. 29

Where: Granville Street and 14th Avenue

LunarFest Arts Market

Granville Island is hosting the first LunarFest Arts Market, which will feature local artists from a diverse range of backgrounds. Some of the creations include everything from digital illustrations to wool felt creations to "drawings that convey a sense of peering through a keyhole to observe the world—only to find, sometimes, the world looking right back."

When: Feb. 10 to Feb. 25

Where: Ocean Artworks - 1531 Johnston St. on Granville Island

Workshops and Community Celebrations

Explore family-friendly crafts and find new ways to express  "feelings as we dance and share new interpretations of what the dragon means."

When: Feb. 10 to 25

Where: Ocean Artworks - 1531 Johnston St. on Granville Island