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Lanterns ready for global glow

By Shi Yingying and Li Xinzhu (China Daily)

11:04, September 11, 2012

Shanghai International Lantern Festival lasts for 40 days at Luxun park. (Photo/China Daily)

Chinese tradition says at the very beginning of a new year, when there's a bright full moon hanging in the sky, there should be thousands of colorful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate and thus, the Lantern Festival is celebrated in winter.

But Shanghainese say we shouldn't waste such great weather in the late summer evenings, prompting the Shanghai International Lantern Festival in the fall.

The festival, which lasts for 40 days, is held at Luxun Park in Hongkou district from Sept 5 to Oct 14.

The theme of the Lantern Festival is harmony, blending and development, designed by a Zigong-based company in Sichuan province, which is famous for its magnificent ingenious assembly, exquisite workmanship and strong local customs.

The Zigong lantern has been inscribed on the World Intangible Cultural Heritage. In the 1990s the Zigong Lantern Festival was held several times in Luxun Park.

The festival is divided into three exhibition areas consisting of an international exhibition, a China exhibition and interactivity section.

A total of 52 groups created giant lanterns, adopting special workmanship and introducing sound, light and electricity. In addition, environment-friendly and energy-saving materials such as LED lights are used for the lanterns.

A 200-meter lantern in the shape of a dragon will be the highlight of the festival and will compete for the Guiness World Record of the world's longest lantern.

Comprised of about 80,000 pieces of porcelain including ceramic bowls, dishes, plates and cups, it was made by more than 150 craftsmen from Jiangxi's Jingdezhen, the porcelain capital of China.

"Cotton thread was used to keep the porcelain together, which is extremely hard to imagine as it requires exquisite workmanship - people have to come to check it out," says Liu Shengyang, lighting designer of the Shanghai International Lantern Festival.

The dragon's head alone weighed 1,000 kilograms, he says.

The dragon's head can move and puff smoke, says Liu.

Other lanterns will feature themes such as London Olympics, Eiffel Tower, the Great Wall and the Shenzhou IX manned spacecraft.

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