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Illuminasia Lantern & Garden Festival

A contortionist performs at the Illuminasia Lantern and Garden Festival at the Calgary Zoo on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo by Amanda Richter/The Weal)

A contortionist performs at the Illuminasia Lantern and Garden Festival at the Calgary Zoo on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. (Photo by Amanda Richter/The Weal)

Illuminasia Lantern and Garden Festival is currently taking place every Thursday to Sunday, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., until Oct. 16, at the Calgary Zoo.

The basis of the festival is built around the four seasons, the zoo animals, as well as traditional Chinese culture.

She describes the event a “higher calibre than anything else [we do here].”

“We have only operated for one year, and had 62,000 people in seven weeks.”

Currently, there are 260 lanterns that depict plants, animals and other accenting objects, which change as they would throughout the seasons.

The lanterns are created out of metal using welding techniques. For the covering of the structure, and the light itself, rayon is stretched and secured with glue. The final step for each of the intricate lanterns is a precise paint job.

Over 40 days, 55 artists create the lanterns, then transport them from Zigong, China to Calgary, where a team of 14 artists assemble the masterpiece.

The panda lanterns, with their black and white nature, are a huge contrast against the brightly coloured animals. Another set of lanterns not to miss are the large sunflowers and surrounding deer.

The areas of the festival that tend to draw the most attention, however, are the sections set up as traditional Chinese structures. This includes the hanging red lanterns, along with the Jade emperor and his stage.

Exton-Parder says the flower basket, the peacock and the moose and maple tree lanterns are spectacles not to be missed before exiting Illuminasia.

In addition to the lanterns, a stage show not seen at any other Calgary Zoo event is presented by TD Canada. The show, entitled The Journey of the Monkey Princess, takes place nightly on the Grazers Lawn.

Ninja battles, martial arts, dancing, music and acrobatics round out the performances.

The Family Experience time is set for 7:30 p.m., whereas the Adult Experience show is held shortly after, at 8:30 p.m., and runs for approximately one hour. Both shows are appropriate for all audiences.

Although the zoo is known to create large events such as the Zoo Lights, “The multicultural focus of the event is different than anything else we do,” said Exton-Parder.

For more information, or tickets to Illuminasia, please visit:

https://www.calgaryzoo.com/blog/events/illuminasia-the-festival-guide-2016/

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