The first gift of Christmas has officially arrived. Citi Field will light up this holiday season with North America’s largest lantern arts festival.
The Hello Panda Festival, which celebrates the traditional Chinese art of lantern making along with the nation’s beloved bear, will run from Dec. 6 to Jan. 26 and showcase 120 lantern exhibits.
Made up of more than 10 million lights, the lanterns will be divided into six different theme parks, such as Holiday Wonderland and Sports World, and will feature interactive exhibits, including the world’s tallest Christmas tree lantern, life-sized dinosaurs, and a 98-foot-long light tunnel.
“I love lots of animals, but above all I love pandas the most. I love the panda’s world, which is simple, humble, joyful, social, and peaceful,” said Winston Wang, general manager of arts and entertainment company CPAA, which created the event. “This winter, right here in Citi Field … we will create a lantern world of pandas.”
The "colorful, beautiful, warm, and cozy" festival has been years in the making, Wang said. CPAA has held similar lantern events in Atlanta, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.
“After six years of research, tests, and experiments, we are finally ready for New York,” he said. “We will make a new holiday tradition in Citi Field.”
The festival will also feature live performances, galleries, DJ parties, a holiday market with cultural items and activities across six heated tent areas, and modeling competition for kids.
Sixty international food vendors from the World’s Fare, including Empanadas Papa, now in its third year of business, will also be present at Hello Panda.
“This is a great event they’re bringing to Queens and New York … it’s bringing a lot of attraction to New York City,” said Jose Moreira, 37, who co-founded Empanadas Papa with his younger brother, Pedro Moreira, 30. “On the daily we try to bring something different … and you gotta try our food. Our empanadas are the best in New York City.”
During a press conference at Citi Field on Monday where the event was announced, Hello Panda Festival CEO Baoli Zhang presented the first festival ticket to Mr. Met. Others who want to attend can get their tickets starting Thursday at hellopandafest.com.
The event will also take place in Vernon, New Jersey, from Oct. 18 to Feb. 2 and in Catskill, New York, from Oct. 25 to March 22.