CIBC LunarFest creates a downtown jungle at Vancouver Art Gallery

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      If you're looking for an excuse to spend time downtown this weekend, consider CIBC LunarFest on the Vancouver Art Gallery plaza, which runs from today through Sunday (February 17).

      The annual festival to bring in the Lunar New Year features a jungle of lanterns for the kids, who can follow a treasure map full of surprises.

      Taiwanese lantern masters Pai Jung-Cheng and Lin Jin-Chang will also be on-site between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on each day.

      The Chai Found Music Workshop—a Taipei-based group that presents traditional Taiwanese and Chinese music—performs between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. all three days. Members of the band will even offer a rock 'n' roll version of Chinese chamber music, followed by workshops allowing people to put their hands on the instruments.

      At today's opening ceremony, Vancouver composer Grace Lee played traditional Korean music on the kayagum.

      The 12 strings are made of silk. She demonstrated how to play the instrument by plucking them with her right hand as fingers on her left hand pressed and vibrated the strings. 

      Grace Lee entertains the crowd on the kayagum.

      Taiwanese Canadian Charlie Wu, chair of the Asian Canadian Special Events Association, opened the festival at 2 p.m. today. The next speaker was Senator Yonah Martin, who's of South Korean descent, followed by Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang, who traces his roots back to southern China. Jang told an amusing tale about how, as a kid, he liked collecting money on Lunar New Year.

      Vancouver city councillor Kerry Jang
      B.C. Liberal candidate Gabby Kalaw and Veronica Shiu (first runner-up, Miss Chinese Vancouver 2012)

      Wilma King-Bennett (Jamaica's honorary consul), Michael Tseng (Taipei Economic and Cultural Office), and Marilyn Moseley (honorary consul for Barbados)

      These two traditional sculptures greet visitors to CIBC LunarFest.

      Celebrating the Year of the Snake in downtown Vancouver.