Chinese Lantern Festival delights and amazes

Making its Central European debut, the traditional Chinese lantern festival highlights music, dance, costumes and the amazing art of the illuminated lantern, opening September 1st on Vienna's Donau Insel.

Chinese Lantern Festival delights and amazes
Highlight is this scale model of Vienna's Opera House, as a giant lantern. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Hundreds of people attended a special preview of the latest cultural phenomena to emerge from the Far East, with the inauguration of a festival that has more than two thousand years of tradition to uphold.

This festival, organized for the first time in Central Europe, showcases the special artistry of nearly sixty artists and performers, who combine dance, stunning acrobatics, music, lavish costumes and with a highlight of beautifully illuminated lanterns dozens of metres long and several metres high.

With prices for tickets being 22 euros for adults and 12 euros for children, the festival is challenged to provide a high level of entertainment — and they deliver.

Chinese artists have crafted an amazingly huge scale replica of Vienna's famous opera house.  There is a tribute to Austria's famous Swarovski Crystal, as well as the goddess Pallas Athene with winged Nike, and some traditional Austrian dishes that everyone will enjoy.

The more traditional Chinese images are stunning — including a massive dragon, which watches over the event from behind the stage.  See if you can spot the tribute to the classical Austrian composer, as well as copies of some famous statues from the Belvedere gardens.  

There is even a pair of Red Bulls on the stage, but we suspect that's just a happy accident.

The performers on stage give everything they have, night after night, and still had time to pose for photographs with fans.  Important tip: the lanterns are best viewed after darkness falls.  The festival runs until October 9th, but get there early — it's going to be popular!

Check out our gallery here.  But trust us — it's much more impressive and beautiful in person.  

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Austrian guests pack Mozart’s childhood violin for state visit to China

The violin that Mozart used as a child left Friday for a state visit by Austrian government members to China, where a seven-year-old girl will play it for President Xi Jinping.

Austrian guests pack Mozart's childhood violin for state visit to China
Anna Cäcilia Pföß will accompany President Alexander Van der Bellen on the state visit to China. Photo: Carina Karlovits/HBF

The girl, Anna Cäcilia Pföß, “will accompany us… as a musical ambassador and represent Austria as a land of culture,” President AlexanderVan der Bellen said.

“She will do it quite brilliantly, I am sure,” Van der Bellen told reporters before the 200-strong delegation of politicians, business people and others departed.

The violin is believed to have been made in the 1740s and until 1820 belonged to Mozart's sister Maria Anna, nicknamed Nannerl, also a child prodigy.

Since 1896 it has been in the collection of the Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, and is normally on display at the museum in the house where the composer was born.

Pföß will perform at Sunday's state banquet attended by Xi and Van der Bellen, playing pieces by, unsurprisingly, Mozart but also other Austrian and Chinese composers.

READ ALSO: Mozart's clavichord returns to Vienna

Photo: Carina Karlovits/HBF