China’s fancy lanterns were well-known in both ancient and modern times, while the Zigong Lantern Fair has a long-standing reputation. The diligent and wise Zigong people contribute not only the unparalleled techniques of well salt to the world, but also the splendid fancy lantern craftsmanship to humans. In China where lantern fairs prevailed over thousands of years, the Zigong Lantern Fair concentrates all the splendors of the Chinese lantern cultures and stands out with such prominence that it has won the honor of “the premier lantern in the world”, and thus Zigong, a famous historic and cultural city in China, has become well-known in the world as the “city of salt”, “birthplace of dinosaurs” and “southern city of lanterns”. The lantern fairs in Zigong boost a long history and remarkable features. It has been a custom since the Tang Dynasty to light lanterns when the New Year came. Up to the Qing Dynasty there emerged the “lion lantern fair” and “lantern pole festival”. And at the beginning of the 20th century, “lantern-lifting festival” came into being, together with such activities as “flying Kongming lanterns”, “dragon lantern dance”, “lion lantern party” and “fancy lantern party”. Gradually the Zigong Lantern Fair develops into a series of festivals integrating local folk customs and cultures with nation-wide reputation.
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Zigong Lantern Fair which had been suspended for a time had the opportunity of being resumed and giving out extraordinary radiance. 9 sessions of New Year Lantern Fair and 8 sessions of International Dinosaur Lantern and Trade Fair have been held in succession. With increasing reputation, the Zigong Lantern Fair has been made the most typical lantern fair in South China contrasting the Harbin Ice Lantern Fair in North China. The Zigong CPC Committee and Zigong Municipal Government lay great emphasis on the Lantern Fair and the citizens of Zigong make joint efforts to run the Lantern Fair, following the principle of “taking the lantern fair as the medium to make friends and revitalize the economy” and “taking pride in the lantern fair and refreshing ourselves to build Zigong”, and the guideline of “running the people’s lantern fair by the efforts of the people”. The Lantern Fair carries forward the excellent national cultures of the Chinese and takes the path of promoting trade through culture and integrating trade and culture, thus winning the care, support and acknowledgement from Comrade Deng Xiaoping and General Secretary Jiang Zemin and other Party and State leaders. The Zigong Lantern Fair is famous for high-end taste, numerous lantern giftware, prominent artistic features and magnificent spectacle. In the ocean of lanterns, there seem to be red and romantic attics, jade-like and golden rays and flowing radiance. There seem to be birds’ chirps, wandering dragons and dancing phoenixes. Lights and scenes mixing together constitute a panorama of lanterns, a symphonic poem of lanterns. Lingering in lantern corridors and pavilions and lounging under clusters of lanterns takes every tourist into a fancy world. This night will certainly fall on their memory every year.
No other lantern fair in China or the world has such overwhelming vigor, artful lantern combination, exquisite craftsmanship and strong local flavor as the Zigong Lantern Fair. It attracts throngs of tourists and earns honor from domestic as well as international visitors for its unique appeal and endless charm. Since the reform and opening-up, the Zigong Lantern Fair has its footprints all over China. Over 40 metropolitans, cities and regions like Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Nanjing, Xi’an, Lanzhou, Changchun, Lhasa, Urumqi, Harbin, Baotou, Taizhong of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau SARs have played host to more than 70 sessions of the Fair, contributing to a new-stage development of Chinese lantern culture. Since the 1990s, the Zigong Lantern Fair, as the messenger for the Chinese nationality, strode into the international arena and held exhibitions in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan for up to 10 times, spreading the brilliance and splendor of Chinese lantern culture to all parts of the world. And more people from more places in the world can enjoy it after the Fair is connected with the Internet from October 1, 1997.
The Zigong Lantern Fair, more and more trade-oriented, intensive and international-oriented, has achieved favorable social effects and economic effects. Up till now, over 50 million domestic and international visitors have been to the Zigong Lantern Fair, and internal and external trade volume in the Lantern Fair has exceeded 10 billion yuan. The accumulated revenue from the Lantern Fair alone has been used to build China Lantern Museum, the only one in the country. In Zigong, lantern manufacturing, lantern exhibition, and lantern and trade fair have become a new industrial and economic growth point. Zigong lantern and trade fair has turned out to be a grant festival integrating culture, technology and tourism, a large window for solidarity and cooperation, opening-up and development, and external publicity, as well as a huge market attracting swarms of customers and promoting investment, thus effectively boosting opening-up and economic development of Zigong city.
The people create the lantern fair, which in turn benefits the people. In the new century, the Zigong Lantern Fair will surely appear with brand new exotic scenes and wonders and give out more splendid and eye-catching radiance.