Photo source: Belgrade Waterfront
This article was developed within the program Venture an Idea funded by the USAID.
If, for some reason, you haven't hopped to the Sava promenade lately, you have every reason to do so this weekend. Why? Because in celebration of the Chinese New Year, Belgrade is staging the 5th edition of its Chinese Lantern Festival until February 5th, and it's every bit as fantastic as it sounds.
The fest is imagined as a goodhearted cultural exchange initiative, with its January 21st opening marking the coming of the Chinese New Year. What you can expect there is a color spectacle like no other, a few workshops, and lots of traditional Chinese goodies on show. The entrance is free of charge.
The Lantern Lightshow
Like every year, the most striking feature of the fest is the lantern installations lined alongside the river bank near the Galerija shopping mall at the Sava promenade. They light up every nightfall at 5 pm in the likenesses of real-world flora and fauna, plus a few recognizable creatures from the Chinese cultural lore like the legendary lung dragon. There's a fire fountain hovering around, too.
The scenic, slightly extravagant light parade is signed by the famous lantern producer and operator Zigong Haitian, coming straight from the lantern capital of the world. They sure know how to light them up â€“ the lanterns look as great in photos as they are arresting in person.
Oh, and they shine exquisitely against the Sava River so that you can go a little crazy with your photos on that front, as well.
Food and Tea, Please
For all of you lapsang lovers out there, the Lantern Fest has prepared a demonstration of traditional Chinese tea making. Apart from learning the tricks of the trade, you'll get to try some. During the show, visitors will be served a bona fide aromatic tea from China, a pleasure that awaits you every weekend at 5 pm until the fest is over.
Also, early goers had a chance to learn about making the traditional Chinese dumplings specialty. Who knows, it might get repeated; tea and dumplings go well together, we're told.
Novi Sad, Too
Belgrade is not the only Serbian city to stage this year's Lantern Fest. The Liman Park in Novi Sad is just as convenient home for the illumined frogs, water lilies, mushrooms, dragons, and deer. All the bells and whistles from the capital will be there, with an added extra gravy in the form of stands choke full of traditional Chinese treats and souvenirs.
So, no excuses; go and see the Chinese Lantern Festival this weekend and earn your bragging rights.
For similar relevant stories, visit our Belgrade Insights page.