Late night shoppers will be stopped in their tracks on the evening of Thursday, September 27, as Belfast City Centre gives itself over to the magical colour, sights and sounds of a traditional Chinese Lantern Parade.
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated internationally, and has a history going back over 3,000 years. The long-overdue Belfast debut with feature a dazzling array of martial arts, dance, children’s theatre and workshops, and signals the arrival of the new autumnal moon and the second most important festival in the Chinese calendar.
The inaugural Belfast mid-autumn celebration has been organised by One World Creative in association with Chinese Welfare Association to be an inclusive celebration for all. The result is an inclusive, vibrant and city-wide celebration, which culminates in the beautiful and symbolic release of Lotus flower lanterns onto the river at Lanyon Quay.
Festival director Pamela Lee said: 'We’re delighted to be able to host the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival right in the heart of Belfast. For Chinese people the festival, or Moon Cake Day, is an important time in the lunar calendar, and One World Creative were keen to share this cultural tradition with the wider community in Belfast.
'We are keen to highlight the wonderful colour and vibrancy of the lantern parade in the city, combined with the peaceful serenity of the lotus flower lanterns floating on the River Lagan, and hope that the wider community can develop a better understanding of the richness of the Chinese culture.'
On the evening, the parade will make its way from City Hall, along Chichester Street, Victoria street and Oxford Street to the back of the Waterfront at Lanyon Place.
As the parade arrives at Lanyon Place there will be a number of performances including the traditional lion dance, a thrilling martial arts demonstration and a choir presentation. There will also be free arts and crafts workshops including lantern making, Chinese calligraphy, dragon making, face painting and free sampling of Chinese traditional food and moon cakes.
Then at dusk, as tradition demands, children will place a ‘wish’ into small lotus flowers which will then be placed into the river creating a moonlight spectacle to round off a memorable and exotic addition to Belfast’s vibrant cultural calendar.
The Chinese Mid-Autumn Harvest Festival begins with the Lantern Parade from City Hall at 7pm. The Chinese Arts & Crafts Market and Lotus Flower Launch will take place from 7.30pm at the rear of the Waterfront beside the Conviance Barge.