[EVENT ~ SA]
Pinky Flat, Sat 23 Oct, 2021
Living in Australia, one of the most savage outcomes of the COVID world seems to be the toll it’s taking on the arts. It seems one event after another has been cancelled, particularly in the post-lockdown-and-crazy-Eastern-States-times world since July. As it turns out, OzAsia has not come out unscathed, but thankfully, despite a few events suffering cancellations, the festival as a whole has been able to carry on – and to deal with the craziness of COVID. There have been a few changes to the usual festivities, and some of these have turned out rather well!
One event that’s been a stalwart of the OzAsia line-up since the beginning is the Moon Lantern Festival. I remember attending the very first one in Elder Park, when we had an endless parade of lanterns from artists and school kids alike, and it was a great celebration of Asian culture and an important link to the Autumn Festivals from that continent. Over the years, the parades have become more elaborate, and continued to attract larger and larger crowds, and of course, with the dagger of COVID and health and safety hanging over the 2021 event, an interesting and what turned out to be an awesome change was made to the event this year: rather than just having a single, one-off parade, they made the installation stationary while people could follow a trail, and best of all, they let it run over a few nights!
With spring finally seeming to have cast off the shackles of winter (hopefully for good now!), we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and clear night to take on the trail. Securing my free tickets, we headed off, planning to sample some of the Lucky Dumpling Markets ahead of the trail. While the line-up suggested that half of Adelaide had a similar idea, we made it into the market, all COVID checked in, and could thankfully enjoy the festivities mask-free and sipping brews and sampling morsels while standing, though it seems dancing was still relegated to the performers on stage. Baby steps… Anyway, after scoring some awesome dumplings from the likes of Fire by Soi 38 (truly sensational! These guys have mastered elevating Asian cuisine, and then done the impossible by turning into equally satisfying street fare!), TMR, Momo Kitchen, and some very tasty (and unusual) jackfruit dumplings from Forage Supply Co, while listening to the antics of Jason Chong compering and watching the haunting Noriko Tadano and Adam Ritchie, we watched the sun set over the Torrens and chatted to randoms (that’s COVID safe still, right?), waiting to cross the river and see some lanterns.
Once over the footbridge, we were immediately confronted with a giant Chinese Dragon lantern that literally spanned the river, and was attracting plenty of attention. The Trail then started on the other side, with Adelaide Oval as a backdrop, and I must say, the COVID safe entry was seamless and well managed. Following a string of coloured lights into the dark, we were met by various installations of bright and colourful lanterns. Placard boards throughout told various fables and legends linking back to a variety of Asian traditions celebrated during the Autumn festivals, with interesting links to the lanterns on display.
The lanterns had a great mix of tradition and modernity, and also a fantastic link between their Asian origins, such as a Chinese lion used in traditional dances, and their current Adelaide home, such as the beautiful and giant Rosella. There were animals, including dolphins, fish, swans, rhinos, tigers, and cats, as well as man-made objects, like cars, boats, trains and even a moustache. Even the sponsors of the event had an interesting take on advertising, with lanterns representing their logos and services. Of course the two pandas (that I’m going to call Wang Wang and Funi) were a crowd favourite, as were the moving installation of the dancers working their way through the crowd.
The atmosphere was electric, with the location sufficiently quiet from the usual city bustle and its spectacular Adelaide skyline backdrop, all set among one of the nicest spots on the River Torrens. There was piped Asian music playing accompaniment, with the whole thing giving off an air of a late evening at WOMADelaide.
The event was very well done, seamlessly managed, and it was fantastic to see it spanning four nights, allowing a maximised opportunity to be a part of it all. As OzAsia has continued to grow and evolve over the years, I do hope that the Moon Lantern Trail becomes a permanent fixture. Be sure to check it out while you can, and take in some of the great foods on offer at The Lucky Dimpling Market!
The Moon Lantern Trail continues at Pinky Flat until Sun 24 Oct. OzAsia Festival and the Lucky Dumpling Market continues at various locations until Sun 7 Nov.
Images courtesy of Luke Balzan