July 31, 2018 6:00 am
Updated: July 31, 2018 7:58 am

Winnipeg celebrates Chengdu, China sister city relationship with millions of LED lights

Winnipeg is set to host a massive lantern festival. It's all part of Lights of the North, celebrating 30 years of sister city ties with Chengdu, China - home of the Giant Panda.

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Winnipeg is reigniting its sister city relationship with Chengdu, China – home of the giant panda. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the twinning of the two cities, Lights of the North lantern festival is set to take over Red River Exhibition Park starting Aug. 31 until Oct. 14.

“It’s the largest event of its kind ever mounted in Canada,” said Dorothy Dobbie, Lights of the North Committee Chair.

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Millions of LED lights are involved in creating large displays, including replicas of iconic sights that are distinctly Manitoban, like the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, the Legislative building and even polar bears.

“The lights are so extensive, I’m told that they max out the power transformers [at Exhibition Park],” said Dobbie.

Kids can enjoy interactive dinosaur displays as well with Dinosaur World, but Dobbie said the light displays aren’t the only draw.

Entertainers, artisans, and food are all part of the line-up, and performances range from folk dances and acrobatics to Chinese “face changing” opera.

In 1988, Dobbie and then-Mayor Bill Norrie were among the delegation sent from Winnipeg to participate in the twinning with Chengdu. As part of the relationship, an exchange was made – Winnipeg sent a pair of polar bear cubs to Chengdu in exchange for a pair of giant pandas.

Millions of LED lights will make up the displays.

Lights of the North.ca

The pair arrived in 1989 and were in the care of the Assiniboine Park Zoo for a year. As a result, Winnipeg became the second city in North America – the first in Canada – to be visited by giant pandas.

Dobbie said the 30th anniversary of the sister city relationship is timely. In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced 2018 as the Canada-China Year of Tourism, an initiative of the Canadian government to strengthen the country’s long-term relationship with its second largest trading partner.

More information can be found on the Lights of the North website here.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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