Lanterns light way for festival

Crowd packs The Square

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 09:00 22/03/2014
The Lantern Festival parade crosses the Butterfly Lakelet bridge in The Square, Palmerston North
WARWICK SMITH

SCENIC ROUTE: The Lantern Festival parade crosses the Butterfly Lakelet bridge in The Square, Palmerston North, last night.

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The Lantern Festival continues to grow in popularity, with at least 1000 people packing The Square in Palmerston North last night for the traditional start to the Festival of Cultures.

Lanterns were carried in a meandering path around The Square by children and parents, led by a horse built by Rangiwahia Environmental Arts Centre Trust (REACT) to mark the Chinese Year of the Horse. Carrying the horse was Jim Richards from REACT, who said the lantern-making workshops leading up to the festival had been fantastic.

"It's getting more and more diverse; it's really good to see people working together," he said.

The range of ethnic groups taking part in the workshops was increasing, he said. Often parents brought their children in to make lanterns, and ended up leaving with their own as well.

"I love to see adults involved; every year is more and more fun."

One of those adults taking part was Palmerston North City councillor Chris Teo-Sherrell, who said this year's festival was the largest he had seen.

"The kids are loving it but I think the adults are loving it, too. It's a great way to start the festival."

The Festival of Cultures continues today with the World Food, Craft and Music Fair in The Square. Groups representing the various ethnicities in Palmerston North will have stalls showcasing their culture, including their food.

As they waited for night to fall yesterday, the crowd was entertained by the Richter City Rebels.

Musical acts performing in The Square today include Palmerston North's Bossa Legal and the Batacuda Sound Machine from Auckland.

Tomorrow, the Palmerston North City Library's activities and displays between 1pm and 4pm will include traditional and contemporary carving, kapa haka, a workshop on poi making and weaving.

Last year, the festival drew more than 15,000 people from Manawatu and surrounding regions.

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- Manawatu Standard

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