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Queens Chronicle

Hello Panda Festival lights up Citi Field

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Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2020 10:30 am | Updated: 1:52 pm, Thu Jan 2, 2020.

Queens has been even brighter than usual this holiday season.

Citi Field is home for the inaugural Hello Panda Festival, which began on Dec. 6 and runs through Jan. 26. It promotes itself as the “largest lantern festival in North America.”

In addition to large, colorful lantern displays, the festival has modern art exhibits, interactive games, cultural arts and handicrafts, a holiday market, live stage performances, music performances and international cuisine.

Lantern festivals originated in China and are celebrated annually there. The lanterns are supposed to bring good fortune to people as well as symbolize putting the past behind and welcoming a new future. Festivals have been held in Atlanta, San Francisco, Phoenix and many other cities and countries around the world.

“The growing popularity of lantern festivals is due to the role of social media in today’s world,” said Winston Wang, general manager of Chinese Performing Arts of America, which is producing the festival. “Our Hello Panda Festival has been designed to stir the senses and inspire imaginations.”

Many of the lanterns are designed as animals such as pandas, seahorses and peacocks. The festival also embraced Christmas with a lantern display of Santa on a train and Christmas tree lanterns.

The exhibition has six heated tents for visitors who are not fans of the cold. For the environmentally conscious, all the lights are LED-based.

“Hello Panda Festival is joyful in winter,” Wang said. “It’s a one-stop shop here. We will make it a new holiday tradition.”

The festival features six different theme parks: Dream World, Holiday Wonderland, Discovery Zone, Interactive Music Zone, Sports World and Community Interactive Zone.

Chongren Fan, deputy general manager of CPAA North America, said the lantern festival looks to “seamlessly blend tradition, innovation and creativity.”

Visitors can also come to the extravaganza on an empty stomach and indulge in the various food vendors. Chinese, Mexican, Italian and Thai are among the many cultural foods you can have.

Some of the reviews on Tripadvisor were as glowing as the displays.

“My husband and I took our 12 and 14 year old granddaughters to the Citi Field Panda Festival last night and we couldn’t have had a more wonderful experience,” wrote one woman. “From the time we approached the parking lot (and yes, parking is $25) we were able to see the magnificent colored lights and structures.”

“The lighting display is absolutely fabulous,” wrote another. “The entire display are lantern lighting and feature different animal I.e. lion, giraffe and dinosaurs.”

Hello Panda Festival

When: through Sun., Jan. 26, 5-10 p.m.

Where: Citi Field, 41 Seaver Way, Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Entry: $22-$90, parking $25.

(718) 886-8158, hellopandafest.com

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