Lanterns light up Yuyuan Garden for Spring Festival
The colorful lanterns to mark the festive spirit are back at the Yuyuan Garden.
The annual exhibit, that attracts millions of visitors every year, began yesterday and will run through March 5.
Over 40 installations will come alive from 5:30pm every evening. The major attraction is the 9-meter-tall canine — it even barks — to mark the Year of the Dog.
Other lanterns made with handicrafts involve traditional Chinese flowers, animals, architectures and cultures. Ancient poems and the 24 solar terms are also displayed on some of the lanterns.
As a highlight, many modern elements have been added into the traditional showcases. An installation depicting China’s countryside with terraced fields features a wind-power generator and a cowboy reading on an iPad.
“The very beautiful lanterns and the crowd make us realize there must be some grand festival here in the garden,” said Bruce Middleton, who hails from Canada and was travelling in the city with his wife. “We feel lucky to see this wonderful lantern festival."
This year all the lanterns are lit with LED bulbs, which are energy efficient compared to the traditional bulbs, and reduces the risk of fire, said Zhang Yan, the operating manager of the garden.
The annual celebrations, which have been held for 23 years, have become the city’s top attraction for tourists during the Spring Festival holiday period. The Chinese New Year is on February 16 and the Lantern Festival on March 2 this year.
The month-long celebration attracts about 6 million visitors on average every year, said Wu Zhongqing, vice chairman of the Yuyuan Inc, which manages the commercial properties at the garden.
To ensure order and safety, the gates of the garden and the Zigzag Bridge will be closed when the number of visitors touches the 40,000 mark. Five of the eight entrances will be closed when the visitors' number reaches 30,000. Access to the Zigzag Bridge will be restricted when the crowd totals more than 20,000. State-of-the-art surveillance cameras have been installed at the eight entrances to the garden to monitor visitor traffic.
A widespread belief is that walking on the landmark bridge brings in good luck throughout the year. It is said that devils carrying bad lucks only walk on straight bridges, so the Zigzag Bridge is connected with good luck, fortune and health and always attracts people, especially during the Spring Festival.
Entry to Yuyuan Garden commercial complex is free except on March 2 and following two days. An entry fee will be charged on March 2 — 80 yuan (US$12.7) for adult and 50 yuan for child. On March 3-4, it will cost 50 and 30 yuan respectively.