Photos: CIBC LunarFest preview showcases Asian lantern palaces to celebrate the Year of the Horse

This evening at the Vancouver Art Gallery, invited guests were given a preview of how the Year of the Horse will be celebrated this weekend at CIBC LunarFest.

In a tent on the north lawn, a show called Lantern Palaces highlights Lunar New Year traditions across East Asia, with a family of life-size lantern horses leading the way.

There are also lanterns showing how lion dances are celebrated in India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, and China.

Charlie Wu, managing director of the Asian-Canadian Special Events Association, told the Straight that the first lion dances occurred in India.

"Our organization's creative team designed the concept," Wu said. "We wanted to turn it into a theatre showcase."

The story takes the horses to South Korea and Thailand, offering insights into these cultures as well.

"Everything on the backdrops is made of recycled cardboard," Wu noted.

CIBC LunarFest also features a "meeting of the drums" from several Asian countries, as well as a dumpling fest, games, and other activities.

Tonight was also a welcoming for William Chuang, the new director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office.

"Taiwan's artists have participated in and have been featured at this inspiring event every year," Chuang told the assembled guests. "This year we are very proud of the Taiwanese theatre presentation, Lantern Palaces, as well as other culturally significant events at LunarFest."

He added that the talent on display is a microcosm of Taiwan's vibrant democracy and cultural diversity, as well as the values that he said Taiwanese share with all Canadians.

Chuang's well wishers included several Vancouver city councillors, B.C. Liberal MLA Linda Reimer, and Conservative MP Tim Uppal, the minister of state for multiculturalism.

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