Lights and celebration of Chinese culture embraces the city centre of Christchurch as the light shines on the river and the city is about the descend into the amazing world of the Southern Island Lantern Festival…
What is the event?
South Island Lantern Festival was on 22 – 24 February 2019 starting at 5:30pm until 10pm and was a glimmering of light along the river in the center of the city.
What happened at the event?
With a 3pm call time I was going to be shadowing and experience what its like to be part of the team delivering the event delivering the festival. The 1km site was set up with amazingly designed lanterns with bright lights ready to dazzle the river. It was a Friday and the crowds arrived to experience something really special. For me, I was to see other events teams in operation and I couldn’t have picked a better team. I was introduced to Christchurch City Council through ChristchurchNZ and it was amazing to be given the opportunity to shadow and meet others who work in events and see the work they have to do to make this event successful. I was briefed, part of the volunteer induction and then I scooted around site with the Project Manager, Amanda, who was brilliant to shadow and learn from – and then it was all go. 5:30pm the festival began. The community arrived and Christchurch descended onto the city for this extremely popular event.
Before we get into the weekend I was particularly interested to understand cultural events from the buy in perspective of the community being celebrated and a festival being produced specifically for. However, in this case it was the city that enjoyed and descended to enjoy the different foods, cultural performances and so on. Cultural events have to be authentic. They have to touch all the key touch points to be able to authentically deliver all of those key cultural senses:
- Have the right food stalls – the festival had an array of culinary items to taste and consume.
- Language appreciation – ensure that those coming to the event felt as though the event was accommodating to them which it did by having the majority of the language in English and Mandarin. Also, the volunteers on the information point spoke Manadrin and English – which was about inclusive environments.
- Performances – Performing traditional cultural dances is a key part to Chinese tradition and culture. To be able to share that with others is a crucial part to Chinese culture. All performances were enjoyable and eye opening – even the band playing a lovely version of “Country Roads”.
- Lanterns – These visual pieces are spectacles which I fully believe are amazing when you really appreciate and observe.
Construction of these cultural identities is important in a globalized society because some cultures loose there way. However, the question is also cultural value VS cultures value. A crucial question to ask before any event plans the outcomes of the event. Cultural value means what does it bring to that cultural. In terms of South Island Lantern Festival here in Christchurch it is about allowing the Chinese community to come together, feel together with their community and also package up certain element of the culture to allow others to buy in and experience what the Chinese culture is about. I fully believe the lantern Festival did this well. The stalls were authentic food made in traditional methods and people love stall foods. The culture value is more people being able to learn, understand and develop knowledge base for the culture – which broadens peoples horizons to the world. This event for me is spot on with the positioning.
Audience consumer behavior is the next short topic to discuss. Consumer behavior is about the buying powers. For me observing I saw people buying into the event through a few different ways. They were purchasing items – which of course is the natural way of understanding buying into the event. However, the second possible method was taken photos with lanterns that were constructed specifically for the event. Also, in turn another way is watching performances and stopping in their own time to watch at this free event. We are in a society that needs to break down barriers to enable consumption and I feel the Lantern Festival did this extremely well. It was a free event, the structure was good, the spacing out was great and it all worked.
The event was on for three days I was in attendance for Friday and Sunday. The two days were brilliant to see the challenges and you know what there was challenges but there was also positive moments of team togetherness – which considering I was not part of the team I felt part of.
Anything else to add?
One thing I am so impressed with was there sustainability policy and there dedication to zero impact on society. It is refreshing to hear someone that cares so much about sustainability and that way it leads to a change. Shanti (I hope I got the correct spelling sorry if not) was that person and today I got to listen and see her in action and she was outstanding. All of the vendors, although it had took a lot of hard work, listened to exactly what she was saying and I was so impressed. I loved that Shanti was so passionate and I loved that the sustainability at events was so successful. I have worked at over at a lot of events in my 9 years working in events management and globally I do not think I will see a passionate, well constructed and dedicated programme than what I saw tonight. Shanti smashed it and deserves to be recognized with a global sustainability award for the passion, drive and dedication to sustainability. A lot of people could learn a lot from the programme and the ideas they have came up with (get in contact if you want to know more and I will put you in touch).
I loved being part of the team. I was there when decisions were made and it was great to hear everyones opinions. Was it like being home? Yeah you know it was – but it was also completely different because thinking methods are different and people personalities are different and outcomes are different and so on…But I love each and every moment.
So thank you to ChristchurchNZ – Jemma for first answering my email and Jen for the Skype chat and thank you to Christchurch City Council – Amanada, Drew, Shanti, Mark, Paul, Andrew, Vanessa…Stu from P4G and I know I have missed people out – I am sorry. But you had my weekend absolutely fantastic!
(Sorry not everyone is in the family photo)
One thing to take away…
Cultural celebrations are constructed in an authentic method to ensure community buy in. Here they were constructed authentically, thought is put in to everything and I loved seeing it from opening to close and when things got tough to when I sat eating Pineapple Lumps (my new addiction) it was spectacular.
Also this team has massive ideas and I fully believe this city will benefit from generating ideas and putting them into conception – so for me – Christchurch will be a global name for events…I put my name on it and say it will happen – be ready world there coming to get you…