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Lights of the North

August 31, 2018 @ 8:00 am - October 21, 2018 @ 5:00 pm

Lights of the North welcomes the beautiful Lights of the North to Winnipeg at the Red River Exhibition Park from August 31st – October 21st!

Winnipeg will play host to a luminous event this September into October, 2018. It will be the largest show of its kind ever mounted in Canada.

Lights of the North, Chinese Lantern Light Festival will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the sister city twinning between Winnipeg and Chengdu, China. It was the twinning of these two cities that led to the visit of two giant panda bears in 1989, an event that saved the Winnipeg Zoo at the time and brought Winnipeg international recognition. Winnipeg was the first Canadian city to host the pandas and only the second in North America to do so.
Lights of the North will also celebrate the Canada-China Year of Tourism in 2018. This special travel exchange was agreed to between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Li Keqiang on the prime minister’s visit to China in September 2016.
Lights of the North, a $4million venture, is being brought to Winnipeg by a group of local investors. Dorothy Dobbie, who led the original business trade mission to Chengdu in 1988, and Brian Wood, who was responsible for organizing and managing the visit of the pandas in 1989, are co-chairs of the event which will be held at Red River Exhibition Park.
Occupying about 10 acres, this giant exposition of Chinese lantern art will be much more than a static display. In addition to specially designed lantern exhibits depicting Manitoba, Canada and Chinese icons and symbols illuminated by millions of LED lights, there will be live performances by Chengdu acrobats and dancers. Chinese artisans will demonstrate their talents on site making heritage handcrafts to the delight of audiences and shoppers.
There will be food — both local and Chinese — and, of course, beer gardens where you can sit and watch the late night fireworks. The kids will be thrilled with Dinosaur World, which offers augmented reality experiences in “Jurassic Park” as well as life-size moving dinosaurs. In addition, there will be carnival rides and games. Visitors can create their own dinosaur on a giant “Lite Brite” screen or ride a bicycle to generate electricity to light up a central display.

Set-up for the event will take place in July and August. It is expected that 75 to 100 artisans will be in Winnipeg for six to eight weeks to complete the construction, some of which will have to take place around previously scheduled events at Red River Exhibition Park.
The displays are steel construction covered by a variety of materials – fabrics in some cases, but the skin of a giant Chinese dragon is made up of thousands of china plates, cups and saucers. The polar bear fur will be ping pong balls and one of the dinosaurs will have a hide of plastic bottles.
A highlight will be a 15-meter high replica of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The Legislature and its Golden Boy will be featured along with the polar bears of the north and a display featuring mighty bison thundering across the prairies. The bison skins will be made of thousands of tiny medicine vials.
Winnipeg will be the first Canadian City to host a light show of this magnitude. It has charmed millions in China, South Korea, Europe and the United States. It was a smash hit in Phoenix, another of Chengdu’s sister cities, over the last two winters and they are already planning a third visit in 2018-2019.
This is a truly magical show that will be here to delight Winnipeggers and visitors from all around for many years to come because the exhibits will remain with us and the show will be refreshed and remounted every second year.
More importantly, though, this is the opportunity to reignite the warm relationship that exists between Chengdu and its sister cities. Even though Chengdu is China’s fifth most populace city, it still has a high regard for its “little sister”, with which it shares many affinities, from connections with our aerospace industry to the geographic fact that we both straddle two important river systems. Our business and cultural sectors can only benefit from this relationship in the future.

Performance Schedule

Mon – Fri 

6:30 pm – 7:15 pm / 8:00 pm – 8:45 pm / 9:30 pm – 10:15 pm

Sat – Sun

5:00 pm – 5:45 pm / 6:30 pm – 7:15 pm / 8:00 pm – 8:45 pm / 9:30 pm – 10:15 pm


August 31, 2018 @ 8:00 am
October 21, 2018 @ 5:00 pm
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Red River Exhibition Park