Dec. 4, 2019 Staff Report
Queens is about to enter the Age of Enlightenment.
The Hello Panda Festival is set to fill Citi Field with intense energy ─ literally and figuratively ─ from Friday, Dec. 6 until Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.
This first-ever extravaganza celebrates the traditional Chinese art of lantern-making with more than 120 exhibits. (Don’t worry, environmentalists, the artisans are using LED lights – several million of them.)
Of course, real-looking panda bears of various sizes will be there with the gigantic Panda Man Lantern as a main attraction. But they’ll share the audience’s attention with such creations as the world’s tallest Christmas tree lantern (65 feet high), an enormous fairy tale castle, life-size dinosaurs and safari animals, and a 98-foot-long light tunnel.
The handmade, handpainted works will be on display in six theme parks: Community Interactive Zone, Discovery Zone, Dream World, Holiday Wonderland, Interactive Music Zone, and Sports World.
Art galleries and stages for live local and international musical acts will be in giant heated tent areas. And in a clear sign of the times, one tent will have Virtual Reality facilities and gamer booths. (You’re welcome, youngsters.)
Hello Panda will also reflect modern day Queens with 60 international food vendors serving such cuisines as Argentine, Dominican, Mexican, Italian and Thai. In other spots, crafters will sell distinctively Chinese items such as calligraphy, dough sculptures, and sugar paintings.
General admission prices run from $22 to $28. The doors will be open from 5 pm to 10 pm every night for the entire 52-day run.
Finally, this might be the start of something big. The organizing entity, China Performing Arts Agency North America, has contracted with Citi Field to hold Hello Panda annually in Flushing for at least four more years. The goal is to create a traveling global phenomenon.