Lanterns, fireworks light up festival

A giant lantern on display at the Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations at Gardens by the Bay.

SINGAPORE - Giant lanterns, food and flowers greeted visitors to this year's Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, held at Gardens by the Bay for the first time.

The event opened last night with a round of fireworks - to the delight of Madam Jolynn Lim, 40, and her three children Maecia, eight, Marcus, seven, and Jordan, four, who took along homemade lanterns.

"We've never come at night before so it's a good chance to experience the Gardens with the festive mood," said the part-time office worker. "I'm hoping the children will learn what this festival is about beyond just carrying the lanterns."

Performances and activities for families will be held throughout the 10-day festival, which is organised by Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Newspapers Division (CND), People's Association Passion Arts and Gardens by the Bay.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was guest of honour on Friday night.

Stalls hawking an array of dishes from Singapore, China and Taiwan drew visitors to The Meadow, where some of the 54 lanterns were on display.

Winning entries in a lantern-making competition are on display at The Colonnade, next to paintings of horses by Chinese artist Qi Hong. Proceeds from the sale of the latter will be donated to the President's Challenge 2013.

Dr Kiat W. Tan, chief executive of Gardens by the Bay, said he hopes visitors will enjoy the "beautiful contrast between lanterns on the lawn and on the water". Mr Lim Huan Chiang, vice-president of the cultural industry promotion department of the CND, said: "One of our objectives is to bring in foreigners, new citizens and non-Chinese to get to know our Chinese festival."

Celebrations for the Chinese harvest festival will continue at Gardens by the Bay until Sept 22. The site will be open from 6pm to 11pm on weekdays and from 3pm to 11pm on weekends. Admission is free.

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