Hastings is set to celebrate its 36-year-old sister city relationship with Guilin in China by lighting hundreds of lanterns in the Osmanthus Gardens.
Festivities will begin on April 5 with visitors encouraged to dress in culturally appropriate attire to add to the atmosphere.
The man behind the lighting of the gardens, Hastings District councillor Kevin Watkins sourced new lotus lanterns for the occasion, which he says have a very special meaning.
“The lotus is regarded in China as one of the top 10 flowers,” he says.
“It is a remarkable flower, noted not only for its ability to grow in muddy ponds, but also for its beautiful colours, size, and the richness of its symbolism.”
He says getting the four new lanterns here in time for the festival was tricky.
“We received a grant from Asia New Zealand Foundation in December, so they had to be constructed, dressed, delivered and loaded into a container bound for New Zealand on Christmas Eve in order for them to arrive in Hastings in plenty of time,” says Watkins.
“The Osmanthus Garden’s waterways could easily accommodate 30 lotus lanterns, and en masse, would look stunning.”
Watkins says the plan is to add to the collection and to help raise the funds for them so for the first-time visitors will be asked for a gold coin donation at the gate and organisations, businesses and individuals are being asked to consider donating to the project.
“We want to continue to lift the vibrancy and dramatic effect of the gardens every year,” he says.
“The Osmanthus Gardens is such a beautiful spectacle at night during the festival; it is a Hastings icon, a treasure.
“The tranquillity, the reflections of traditional Chinese silk lanterns in the waters, the lighting of trees, and the variation of the classical music accompaniment continues to attract a growing number of people each year.
“And we get such lovely comments, everything from ‘beautiful’ to ‘stunning’ to ‘peaceful’, from the hundreds of people who come through during the lighting.”
For more information on the garden or to donate towards new lanterns see: www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/Lighting-Osmanthus