Lucie Edwardson/ For MetroGeorge Zhao, President of Hanart Culture, holds up a miniature version of a tiger Chinese Lantern, much like the giant versions expected at the Calgary Zoo’s Illuminasia Lantern and Garden Festival this fall.

This fall the Calgary Zoo will be lit up in a way never seen before, creating a unique atmosphere for Calgarians designed to engage the senses and explore multiculturalism.

Over 230 handmade traditional Chinese lanterns, including 183 giant animal lanterns and 183 decorative lanterns of all sizes, will be on display for the ILLUMINASIA Lantern and Garden Festival from September 17 to November 1 of this year.

“We have never had a festival like this before and we are very proud to bring this to our community,” said Dr. Clément Lanthier, President and CEO of the Calgary Zoo.

Illuminasia Lantern and Garden Festival will showcase the 800-year-old tradition of Chinese lantern making and will highlight China, Japan and India which will be reflected in the zoo’s entertainment and programming.

Acts will include cultural groups such as Japan’s Kenichi Ebina, the 2013 winner ofAmerica’s Got Talent, Phoenix HuaYun Artistic Troup from Montreal and Sparq Productions Bollywood performers from Calgary.

George Zhao, President of Hanart Culture has been commissioned by the zoo to create the lanterns. He said that each lantern takes a considerable time and the work of many people to be completed.

“One animal can take up to 6 artists 10 days to finish,” he said, “This does not include the time it will take to install the lanterns on zoo grounds.”

Zhao said that as a Chinese Canadian, he was proud to be able to demonstrate the top quality of the lantern industry in China.

“I am honoured to be able to bring such a culturally rich tradition to Canada and this city,” he said.

The event will run nightly, Thursday through Sunday, beginning September 17 and leads up to the arrival of the Calgary Zoo’s very own Giant Panda in 2018.