LunarFest, a Vancouver-based Cultural Olympiad event that celebrates Asian cultures, returned this year to celebrate the Year of the Dog at Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza on Feb. 24 and 25.
First established alongside the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics to present Asian arts and cultures, LunarFest has since developed into an annual festival. Organized by the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association (ACSEA), seven communities including China, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Slovakia, South Korea, and Taiwan shared their Lunar New Year traditions and customs this year.
As the Lunar New Year is based on the lunisolar calendar, the festival had built a large interactive ball pit titled Moon Crawl for visitors to interact with the "moon" and search for a certain ball that is pasted with a specific dog sticker.
A total of ten large golden canine installations were also presented to coincide with the theme "The Perfect Year of the Dog."
Moreover, the festival this year expanded its celebrations to Oakridge Centre, where sky lanterns were installed to express blessings. Taking inspiration from Taiwan's Pingxi Sky Lanterns, a large sky lantern tunnel decorated with 888 small lanterns designed by artist Lu Yen-chun (盧妍君) also asked visitors to write down their new year wishes.
Visitors were allowed to choose a sky lantern of their own lucky number and hang it inside the tunnel for reining in fortune and blessing before taking it home on Feb. 25.
The festival this year was supported by the Vancouver School Board and Vancouver International Children Festival, which brought over 300 students from local elementary schools to participate in making the 888 small sky lanterns.
The opening ceremony was attended by Representative Lee Chih-chiang (李志強) of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Vancouver, who thanked the organizers for making the events run smoothly on a snowy day.
Vancouver City Acting Mayor Raymond Louie, who also attended the ceremony, jumped into the Moon Crawl game and found the ball with the specific dog sticker within seconds.
Katrina Chen, member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and Minister of State for Child Care, shared her experience of releasing sky lanterns and practicing New Year traditions in her childhood in Taiwan. She also thanked LunarFest for passing down these cultures in Canada.
Miss Chinese Vancouver 2017 Cheryl Ng also spoke of the significance of the Lunar New Year and shared her personal memories with the public.