NAGASAKI LANTERN FESTIVAL 2019

WHAT: NAGASAKI LANTERN FESTIVAL
WHEN: 5TH TO 19TH FEBRUARY 2019
WHERE: ALL AROUND NAGASAKI WITH MAIN EVENTS AT MINATO & CHUO PARK
COST: FREE

Be mesmerised and enchanted by the brightly coloured, exotic dreamworld this winter, by visiting the spectacular lantern festival in Nagasaki.

The original celebration took place alongside Chinese New Year celebrations in Nagasaki’s Chinatown, in 1994 it expanded from the Chinatown to all over Nagasaki and was officially named the Nagasaki lantern festival.

The festival lasts throughout the 15 days of the Chinese lunar new year celebrations and has now become so incredibly popular that over 1 million locals and visitors come along to see the lanterns and all the beauty that Nagasaki has to offer.

Known for one of the biggest Chinatowns in Japan alongside Yokohama and Kobe, you can tell that the city had a strong influence from China with their trading history and the celebrations that are involved on these days.

Along with the lanterns are acrobatics shows, lion and dragon dances, theatre performances, emperors’ parade, and of course fireworks. If you fancy trying the local cuisine there are plenty of food stalls to choose from and souvenir shops to take a little memento home with you.

With plenty to see and do all over Nagasaki during the celebrations, you can cram plenty into your days. If you are short on time however, the two main places to where all the action takes place are Minato Park and Chuo Park.

Schedule

  • 5th February – Opening Ceremony – 5:30pm to 6pm

The opening ceremony and lantern lighting for the 15 days begin at Chuo park there is just the lantern lighting whereas at Minato park you have the added extra of the fireworks.

  • 9th & 16th February – Emperors Parade – 2pm to 4:30pm

This is an enactment of how the emperor and empress celebrated the new year with his people during the Qing dynasty. Participants include slaves to carry them both on seats and over 150 flag bearers parading around in Chinese costumes.

  • 10th & 17th February – Maso Procession – 1pm to 4pm

This was originally carried out by the crews of the Chinese ships entering the port at Nagasaki during the Edo period.

Alongside the schedule here is another few pointers for you to have a look out for and make sure that you don’t miss out on:

Dragon Dance – This is thought to have originated from China, as a rainmaking ritual. Wearing traditional clothing the locals chant to the clouds attempting to make it rain, along with carrying a 20-foot dragon trying to attempt to swallow up the moon, the rain chant is done to ensure a good harvest.

Lion Dance – this is characterised by bright coloured costumes and Chinese percussion instruments, with both acrobatic and energy filled rhythms; this is a must see.

Erhu – these are local performances by the residents of Erhu and Kokyu, they include traditional Chinese instruments and is held at various venues around the city.

For the photographers out there to get perfect snapshots the best place to be is by the Megane Bridge, known as Japans oldest arch-shaped bridge, where you will see the only yellow coloured lanterns of the whole festival. Hanging above the water they give off a glowing reflection in the water below as though it is alight; a beautiful sight to see.

As well as the lanterns, there are paper ornaments of the Chinese Zodiac animals.  This year celebrates the Year of The Pig, so the main attraction will be centred around this. Also, there will be Chinese gods on display amongst other things that are known or supposed to bring good luck. These fantastic lantern masterpieces are often made by Chinese artisans or brought over from China each year specifically for this celebration.

Those born in the Year of the Pig are said to be artistic, refined and intuitive with good manners and a refined attitude. Whilst on the whole people born this year are caring and self-effacing, they can be stubborn and indecisive.

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CHINESE NEW YEAR 2019 – YEAR OF THE PIG

In the Chinese Lunar Calendar, 2019 celebrates the year of the pig.  This animal is not thought to be one of the smarter animals out of the zodiac signs as it enjoys sleeping, eating and becomes fat, making it known for being one of the lazier animals. But with this it is well behaved, can bring prosperity to others and is regarded as bringing wealth.

All the zodiac signs play an integral part in Chinese culture and have done for many years. They are normally used to determine certain things in the year such as marriage compatibility, best time to have children, lucky numbers and colours, careers and to tell the fortune for the year.

Originally this day was a ceremonial day where people would pray to the gods and ancestors for a good harvesting and planting season and good luck for the forthcoming year. Firecrackers are also set off in abundance as this is meant to scare away monster and bad spirits, along with this the colour red is also used in decorations, strings of red dry chillies, red lanterns and red money wallets are given out to bring prosperity in the new year. You will see the locals dress in red clothes throughout the Spring, as this is another sign of bringing good luck not only to them but to their family. When the new year celebrations are finished, there is also a large lantern festival held in China this is known to the locals as Valentines Day and is a time to be spent with family so a little different to how we celebrate our Valentines day in the UK.

Chinese New Year is not only celebrated in China, this is not surprising with one out of every five people in the World being of Chinese descent. Some of the biggest celebrations outside of China are known to take place in London, Sydney and San Francisco.

These 3 cities all fight and claim to put on the biggest and best parties, parades and celebrations for the spring festivals outside of Asia. Let’s look at how each of the cities celebrates this occasion.

London – This year it is held on the 10th February with the main celebrations take place in London’s China town, the west end and Trafalgar square. With parades, stage performances, and all-day entertainment there is something for everyone to enjoy. Make sure that you keep an eye out for the lion and dragon dancers as these are meant to bring you good luck, and to top the day off our favourite as always there will be a finale of performances followed by a spectacular firework display to make sure that the end of day does go out with a bang.

Sydney – Along with the celebration is a vibrant arts festival taking place on the 16th of February. There will be cultural events, exhibitions, markets, and entertainment aplenty. On the opening night from 5:30pm Sydney harbour will be glowing red as the firework display kicks off celebrations. Giant lanterns each representing the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac will also illuminate the sky around the circular quay. Along with this there will be dragon boat races in Darling Harbour and in China town lion dances, parades, zodiac roulette and performances.

San Francisco – Although there is not an official firework display there will be some serious noise and plenty of firecrackers in this celebration taking some earplugs is advised. The main event is the grand parade that is held on the 23rd February where more than half a million people gather to watch the parade boasting over 100 parade entries. People will be marching with flags, lanterns, and drums along with floats preceded by dancing lions and dragons.  The main the spectacle of the parade is a 28-foot golden dragon dancing through the streets. The parade is also televised so you can watch from home if you can’t make it or if you want to stay away from the crowds. Along with the parade, there will be lots of events held both through February and March all part of this fantastic celebration.

If you know of any Chinatown in any place nearby yourself then why not look for yourself and experience or take part in one of the many celebrations that are happening all around the world.

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INTERNATIONAL PYROMELODIC FIREWORK FESTIVAL 2019

WHAT: INTERNATIONAL PYROMELODIC FIREWORK FESTIVAL 2019
WHY: INTERNATIONAL FIREWORK COMPETITION
WHEN: JULY/AUGUST 2019 (DATES TO BE DETERMINED)
WHERE: MONACO
COST: FREE

The International pyrotechnic competition in Monaco first took place in 1966 and was the first event of its kind. Initially just a pyro competition, it changed to a pyro-melodic competition in 1996 and continues in that format to this day.

Countries compete to thrill the tens of thousands of visitors who gather in the Bay to watch the fireworks explode in the Monegasque skies backed up by a powerful sound system which will ensure that everyone gets to enjoy the full impact of the shows on offer with the perfect marriage of music and pyrotechnics.

Last year the competition became the pyro-melodic event it is today and changed its name to Monaco Arten Ciel.

Café’s and restaurants surround Port Hercule, The Palace and Walls of Fort Antonio so there are plenty of places to meet and greet and many of these have uninterrupted views of the fireworks; so you can sip your champagne, whilst watching the stunning effects.

As with most things, you can do this event either on a budget or as a full spend-fest, depending on what you are looking for:

RESTAURANTS

Blue Bay – French/Mediterranean Cuisine

Quite pricey but as a very special day out, worth every penny with excellent service with taster menus or the full a-la-carte jobby to whet your appetite.

Maison des Pates Monaco – Italian/Mediterranean

This place does a huge range of fresh Italian pasta which the reviews say is second to none. You choose a portion of whichever pasta you want (usually €7 – €10) and then a choice of sauces from €1 for a delicious Bolognese sauce to a creamy salmon sauce for €4.50. Two people can each well for under €30.00.

Sexy Tacos – Mexican (vegetarian/vegan-friendly dishes available)

Reviews for this place are really good and if you want a relatively spicy authentic taste of Mexico, pared back slightly for the European market but if you want a tasty and different meal, get along there as this is ‘the one’.

Les Perles de Monte Carlo – French, seafood specialists, Mediterranean

Specialists in all thing seafood, as they are harbourside and are also wholesale suppliers to the local restaurants. It has an upbeat feel and you can even pick your own lobster.  The restaurant also supplies seafood to local restaurants in the region, so you know it is of the best quality around they even have their own oyster beds! It is not fancy but the food more than makes up for it so if you are a fish and seafood lover, this is THE place to go.

If you are staying in Monaco for a few days, you might want to take in a show – The Beach Boys are in concert over there in July and have been in the entertainment business for over 50-years and are still packing the audiences in.

We will bring you news of the companies participating in the 2019 Firework event as soon as details are available.

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