40-person illuminated dragon centrepiece of Sunday’s Moon Lantern Festival

By David Russell

Australia’s largest lantern parade will weave through the Adelaide Riverbank Precinct this Sunday lead by an enormous illuminated dragon.

The Hong Kong Dragon will be on display as part of OzAsia’s Moon Lantern Festival in Elder Park. The dragon, which is the brainchild of OzAsia Festival Designer Simone Romaniuk, comprises nine sections and requires 40 people to operate it.

“The dragon was built by our team at the Festival’s workshop in Kilburn, headed up by artist Kathryn Sproul,” Simone told Inside South Australia.

“It’s made of a light-weight wire frame covered in a hand-printed fabric skin.”

There will be 35 other large lanterns on display, and all of them, like the dragon, are electrically wired and illuminated by LED lights. Once the sun sets revellers will also be treated to a huge fire works display over the river.

In addition to the Moon Lantern Festival Simone designed other areas around the Festival Centre, including the River Deck and Night Noodle Markets.

“The goal was to make the Festival Centre precinct feel different to how it normally does,” she said.

“We’ve changed the format (of the Moon Lantern Festival) this year – it’s not about looking at what’s happening on the stage in the afternoon and then the parade… this year will be more interactive.

“People will be able to look at lanterns, watch roving performers, and eat food all through the park… (we’ve also) tried to incorporate the river and the bridge.

“It’s more like a traditional Moon Lantern Festival, about spending time with family and friends.”

Unseasonably bad weather meant the last two Moon Lantern Festivals had to be cancelled due to severe winds. Simone and other organisers have done their best to weather-proof this year’s event, and even have a contingency day up their sleeve. It looks like they won’t need to use it though – the forecast at the time of writing is a sunny 24 degrees.

Simone said Moon Lantern Festivals in Asia are a traditional harvest festival based on the full moon.

“They are a celebration of family and friends… One of the traditional things to do is admire the lanterns and have games for the children to play.

“People also buy moon cakes but instead of eating them, give them as presents… the more elaborately wrapped the present is the more meaningful it is… we’ll have moon cakes for sale as well.”

Moon Lantern Festival 2015 event schedule

4pm – Event start

4-7pm – Workshops and performances

7pm – Moon Lantern Parade

8:10pm – Fireworks (weather permitting)

8:30pm – Event concludes