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Chinese culture in France! Paris gears up for Yuyuan lantern fair


More than 2,000 colorful lights crafted in China have been shipped to France for the first Yuyuan Garden Lantern Festival outside of China, which will be held in Paris in mid-December.

The traditional lanterns will illuminate the Jardin d'Acclimatation – an amusement park – from December 15 to February 25, encompassing key Eastern and Western festivals, Yuyuan Inc, the festival organizer, said on Wednesday.

A press briefing in Paris unveiled the progress of the "Festival Dragons et Lanternes" and gave a peek of the attractions on Wednesday. It attracted over 40 French media outlets.

The year 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of Sino-French diplomatic relations, and the lantern festival is a key part of the celebrations. It is also a highlight of the Sino-French Culture and Tourism Year.

Visitors can experience a fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics. A simultaneous lantern festival celebration will be held in Shanghai in January 2024, creating a cultural bridge between France and China, the organizer said.

The festival's theme, "Spirit of the Mountains and Seas," is based on the ancient Chinese encyclopedia "Classic of Mountains and Seas". The theme brings to life mythical beings, including "Fei Fei," a fox-like creature symbolizing healing and friendship, which will serve as the festival's mascot.

The festival in Paris will showcase elements of traditional Chinese culture, such as the integration of the "Seven Arts of Chinese Scholarship" within the lantern designs.

It will also feature an intriguing blend of Eastern and Western elements, like combinations of the Chinese guqin with the French horn, and Chinese and Western cheeses.

Shanghai landmarks will be represented through lantern displays. It will virtually "transport" visitors from Paris to Shanghai's Yuyuan Garden, using augmented reality technology to create immersive experiences.

Around 350 activities are planned during the 72-day festival, including performances of dance, traditional Chinese music, opera, acrobatics and martial arts. The events are designed to offer French visitors an immersive experience of Chinese culture and hospitality, the organizer said.

The Yuyuan lantern fair, held in the heart of the city's well-known cultural and economic center, is one of China's oldest, most well-known and most popular Spring Festival lantern fairs. It has even received official recognition as an intangible cultural treasure.

During its 52-day run early this year, the Year of the Rabbit Lantern Fair drew over 4 million visitors, including more than 80 consular officials and representatives of overseas businesspeople in Shanghai.