The first day of Lunar New Year took place on Monday (January 9), but the festivities have yet to end. Vancouverites will be able to check out the 8th annual LunarFest taking place this weekend (February 12 to 14) at the Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza from 12 p.m. onwards.
The annual event is a celebration of the New Year. Being the Year of the Monkey, the theme of this year’s festival naturally revolves around the mischievous but intelligent animal. Visitors will be able to experience interactive art installations, take pictures in a photo booth, adopt a monkey, enjoy musical performances, create paper fortune cookies, and partake in plenty of other amusing activities.
Here are some highlights to check out at this year’s LunarFest.
Monkey King and His Friends
This immersive installation titled “Our Footprints” revolves around a chapter within the legendary Chinese classical novel “Journey to the West.” The story tells the tale of the monkey king and his quest to complete a lengthy journey, with one chapter focusing on his adventure to the sea kingdom. Visitors will be able to walk through a heated tent to experience an underwater scenario. Hundreds of monkey figurines will be placed inside the tent for guests of all ages to play with, and the interactive part of this installation is being able to place the monkey wherever you want.
An exhibition that showcases the works of six different artists, Reflections will also be an interactive highlight of the event. One of the featured artists is Anna Banana—a Canadian artist focusing on participatory art practices. She will be bringing in her works on bananas to the festival, and they will come in different forms including plastic, inflatable, plushie, and more. Visitors will be able to move the bananas around wherever they please, perhaps next to a couple of monkeys that will also be present inside the art exhibition.
For the first time in the history of the LunarFest, a miniature replica temple will be constructed for visitors to participate in the fortune telling activity. Chinese fortune telling requires guests to pick up a cup filled with sticks, and shake it until one falls out. They can then proceed to bring that stick to a volunteer at the temple and have their fortune read. Japanese fortune telling (omikuji) is quite different, and visitors can ask a question dealing with matters of health, fortune, life, etc. The omikuji will then predict their fortune based on the questions asked—if it is bad, you can leave your fortune on the tree and tie a knot to prevent it from attaching to the bearer. If you receive a good fortune, you can either attach it to the tree for greater effect, or keep it for luck.
The featured tea at the LunarFest in Vancouver is Lei Cha—a traditional tea for the Hakka people. Visitors will get to experience how to prepare this traditional tea that is comprised with more than just tea leaves. They will get to grind together other ingredients including sesames, peanuts, and grains in a special pottery bowl, before adding either hot or cold water to turn it into a drink. Lei Cha is not just regular tea, but also a very nutritional drink that helps quench thirst and maintain a healthy diet. Visitors can learn to make this traditional drink inside the tea station at the event.
Adopt a Monkey
Already introduced to the public at Oakridge Centre since January 28, these cute monkeys on display – both old and new—are available for adoption. The concept of taking your own monkey home is to allow visitors to keep a piece of the LunarFest as a treasured memory. After the adoption process, owners can opt to join the virtual family, where they will receive news on what people are doing with their monkeys in Toronto, Calgary, or other parts of Canada. Owners will also receive invitations to reunion parties, with the first reunion this year to take place during the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.