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Dandenong Festival of Light

The Dandenong Festival of Light is a celebration of colours, creatures and Chinese culture. The World Loves Melbourne was invited to come and experience the magic of this special event, back for its second year. 

Dandenong Showgrounds (Greaves Reserve) has been transformed by over 500 unique silk lanterns. Each evening between 6pm and 10pm, the grounds come alive with light and colour, Filipino-style B.B.Q begins to sizzle, dumplings steam, coffee starts brewing and festival fare such as cake and ice-cream roll out to excited families. One of the best things to do in Melbourne is to explore the outer suburbs and their attractions; it's not just about the Melbourne CBD.

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Dusk is a perfect time to wander through the displays, many of which reveal significant parts of Chinese history and culture. As the sky dims, the lanterns illuminate the grounds and traditional music fills the air. Dragons and other mythical creatures come out to play; bugs and butterflies rest on tree trunks; land animals and sea creatures create worlds to explore; strong warriors stand in formation; and grand temples rise metres in height. 

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The Chinese zodiacs are a fun addition, causing visitors to eagerly search for their birth year and accompanying animal. An Australian animal collection is another crowd favourite, with a kangaroo and her joey capturing the attention of many curious children. The movements and colours bring these lanterns to life, some including interactive sounds that create an exciting 4-D experience. 

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Some evenings bring live performances and workshops; Drum & Kung Fu, Stilt Walkers, fire performers, Lion Dance (check the Facebook page for details). There are a few carnival rides, and a myriad of photo opportunities. 

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The Festival of Light has been extended to the 16th October, allowing for a couple more weeks of festivities. Visit their website to book a ticket, or purchase one upon arrival. The time, skills and artistry that have gone into creating these intricate silk lanterns make the visit well worth while. 

Rachel Mason