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First Yellowknife Lantern Festival kicks off Chinese New Year

Yellowknife's Somba K'e Civic Plaza was a sea of red lanterns Friday night as the Yellowknife Chinese Association celebrated the Lunar New Year with their first ever Lantern Festival.

Yellowknife Chinese Association organizes weeks of cultural celebrations

Paper lanterns and cards with riddles filled the Somba K'e Civic Plaza in downtown Yellowknife for the Lunar New Year, part of a weeks-long cultural celebration organized by the Yellowknife Chinese Association. (CBC)

Yellowknife's Somba K'e Civic Plaza was a sea of red lanterns Friday night as the Yellowknife Chinese Association celebrated the Lunar New Year with their first ever Lantern Festival.

The event announced the arrival of the Year of the Ox, associated with hard work and progress, and kicked off weeks of special events and celebrations organized by the association.

Friday night, that included guessing riddles tied to 72 bright red lanterns lit up in the park. Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty solved the first.

Over the next few weeks, the association is also organizing calligraphy workshops, Mandarin lessons, and a traditional Chinese rice ball cooking demonstration. Most events are already booked up.

The month of celebrations will wrap up with a tea ceremony at Northern United Place, open to all Yellowknifers.

"Chinese New Year is the big event for us … in China," said Angela Law, secretary of the Yellowknife Chinese Association. "But we are far from home now, right?"

Angela Law is the secretary of the Yellowknife Chinese Association. (CBC)

The association hopes the celebrations will deepen the ties between Yellowknife's growing Chinese community and local residents, Law said.

"We can interact, in our Chinese culture, with all the different nationalities in Yellowknife," said Law. "I think that will be a great activity for everybody."

The association was formed only last October, with the goal of providing support for Chinese newcomers and enhancing "mutual friendship" with members of the community.

Lantern festivals have been part of Chinese new year celebrations since at least the third century B.C.

Typically held on the 15th day of the lunar year, they usually mark an end to several weeks of new year celebrations.

The last Year of the Ox was in 2009.

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