Ancient Chinese traditions mingled with contemporary folk-rock, acrobatics and kung fu tea-pouring as the 2013 Christchurch Lantern Festivals welcomed in the Year of the Snake on Saturday.
Hundreds of vibrantly colored lanterns lighted up Christchurch' s Hagley Park North for the festival.
Local families and friends turned up for the festival, enjoying local and international performers, cultural demonstrations and a fantastic array of food and drink. The lantern festival drew more than 60,000 people last year.
Each year the festivals feature elaborate new lanterns created for New Zealand in Zigong, in the Chinese province of Sichuan. The centre-piece of the 2013 festival is a new lantern celebrating the Year of the Snake. It references the ancient legend of Madame White Snake, about a young man who falls in love with a beautiful woman, unaware that she is a white snake that has taken on human form.
The new lantern joined hundreds of favorites from previous festivals, including zodiac animals, symbols of good luck (such as peonies, ducks and goldfish), and complex scenes that depict life in China.
Visiting performers from China included the Shanghai Starlight Acrobatic Troupe and the female ensemble Beauty and Melody, who played traditional instruments such as bamboo flutes and pipa ( lutes).
Those with contemporary tastes were catered for by award- winning folk-rock band Omnipotent Youth Society from the city of Shijiazhuang in China's Hebei province. The established band has won a raft of awards, including Band of the Year at the Chinese Music Media Awards.
The organizer Asia New Zealand Foundation Chairman Philip Burdon said that as one of New Zealand's most diverse cities, Christchurch is a vital part of the foundation's work.
Burdon said the February 2011 earthquake had been a poignant indicator of the city's interconnectedness with Asia, adding that Asian immigrants would play a significant role in the city's rebuild.
The Lantern Festival is traditionally held on the 15th day of the Chinese Lunar New Year. People born in 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989 or 2001 are snakes under the Chinese zodiac. They are said to be determined, wise, analytical and good problem- solvers - but also have a jealous streak and hate to fail.