Thousands of Calgarians gathered for the second annual Calgary Chinatown Lantern Festival on Sept. 8, marking what has quickly become one of the most popular single-day festivals in downtown Calgary.
The lantern festival combined the fun of street vendors, food trucks, and live music, with some of the traditional aspects of Chinese lantern festivals by allowing visitors to write down their wishes and prayers for the upcoming year on lanterns.
While in more traditional festivals those would be floated on paper lanterns, at the Calgary event they were hung from lit trees.
“The Lantern Festival is a time of remembering family, and the value of family and friends. So, I think applying it to here in Calgary and where we are here in Chinatown, we want to kind of bring out the essence of family and friends and togetherness,” said Grace Su, Chair of the Chinatown BIA.
“Of course there are other traditional customs that we have, that we don’t use in this event. But just look at the colourful, beautiful lanterns. It just makes you happy.”
Part of the BIA’s goal for the fall festival has been to attract visitors to Chinatown, and to leave them with the desire to return.
“We want this place to be activated. We want people to remember Chinatown,” said Su.
She said that the success of a second year’s festival is encouraging to the BIA, and is prompting conversations about holding more markets throughout the year.
As for the lanterns hung throughout the festival square, Su said that some of them were hand painted at another one of the major Chinatown festivals: the Chinatown Street Festival which took place in August.
Photos from the second annual Calgary Chinatown Lantern Festival