Zai Jian Spring Festival

Spring Festival 2009 is kaput.  With last night’s full moon, the Lantern Festival (元宵節) marked the end of the traditional Lunar New Year celebrations.  Last year I was unprepared for the crush of humanity trying to get to the various venues to see the lanterns.  This year, I knew what to expect.  I walked into the  fray, mingled for a few hours with hundreds of thousands of folks around the city and then battled my back way out.  It was an amazing night, made so much nicer by the unseasonably warm weather.  You might remember that this time last year it was bitter cold!  I made it to People’s Square where thousands of lanterns were on display.  I got bounced around like a pinball for a while  as I tried to get in close without losing any of my gear.

元宵節 - Lantern Festival V

Photo Op

The lantern displays were cool but the throng of people was stifling, claustrophobic even.  There was no way I was gonna’ change a lens or even put the camera on a tripod in that crowd, so I made do with the 70 – 200mm and bulled my way through.  I took a ton of photos and eventually  began to work my way back against the crowd toward home.  It was then that I noticed a second large mob gathered down by the river.  It was an amazing sight.  Thousands were lined up on the banks of the Liujiang, releasing paper lanterns into the night sky.

元宵節 - Lantern Festival II

Lantern Festival

The atmosphere was positively electric.  Generations of families huddled close together, lighting their lanterns amid the blasts of fireworks and firecrackers and the neon of the surrounding buildings and bridges.  It was sensory overload.

元宵節 - Lantern Festival IV


元宵節 - Lantern Festival I

Fire In The Hole

元宵節 - Lantern Festival III


Speaking of firecrackers, they were MUCH more prevalent this year than they were during the 15 days of last year’s Spring Festival.  For the past couple of weeks, deafening explosions have rocked my neighborhood at decibels usually reserved for a war zone.  The cacophony often lasted until 3, even 4 in the morning.  I am not sure why exactly but, as I said before, it is much warmer this year so I guess people were more apt to be out and about.  Anyway, now that Spring Festival is over I hope to be getting back onto some kind of regular sleep schedule before the next semester starts.

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~ by Expatriate Games on February 10, 2009.

6 Responses to “Zai Jian Spring Festival”

  1. It kind of reminds me of the floating lantern festival during summer here in Japan. Something really serene about night fall and thousands of lit lanterns floating down the river….

  2. The Liftoff! Photo Op is perfect! You captured the emotions really well!

  3. Gorgeous and wonderful “RED” images. I can *feel* their joyous expressions. Well done!

  4. “The Release” is just great…

    R(etc… )

  5. Great expression on the last shot.

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