The first-ever Hello Panda Festival is coming to Citi Field in December, illuminating the holiday season with giant lantern exhibits, global cuisine by the World’s Fare and immersive cultural experiences for all to enjoy.
Details about the spectacular were outlined during a press conference at Citi Field on Monday, Sept. 9. Eight life-sized Hello Panda mascots, each representing a different attraction to be featured at the festival, were joined at the announcement by the China Performing Arts Agency (CPAA), representatives of The World’s Fare, and the Metropolitan Hospitality at Citi Field. The extravaganza will debut on Dec. 6 and will run through Jan. 26, 2020.
“Citi Field is a place where people from all walks of life come together and share an amazing experience,” said Heather Collamore, vice president of Metropolitan Hospitality at Citi Field. “The Hello Panda Festival is a unique event that promotes cultural exchange while delighting the child in all of us.”
Produced by CPAA North America, The Hello Panda Festival — the largest lantern, food and arts extravaganza in North America — will be the first of an ongoing holiday tradition at Citi Field, chosen for its location in the heart of Queens and its status as an iconic New York City landmark.
“Hello Panda’s mission is to not only give New Yorkers and visitors something they’ve never seen before but also deliver an experience they can’t find anywhere else,” said Winston Wang, general manager of CPAA North America, a leading producer of arts and entertainment experiences that promote and celebrate diverse cultures. “Our festival will offer a variety of immersive and social media moments that introduce guests to the artistry of lantern-making while bringing different communities through food and culture.”
Utilizing over 10 million lights, Hello Panda’s 120 massive lantern exhibits — each handcrafted and hand painted by some of the world’s leading lantern artisans — seamlessly blend tradition, innovation and creativity. The Hello Panda Festival’s main attractions will be comprised of six different theme parks: Dream World, Holiday Wonderland, Discovery Zone, Interactive Music Zone, Sports World and Community Interactive Zone.
Over 100-never-before-seen exhibits will be making their world premiere at the festival. Highlights will include the world’s tallest Christmas tree lantern, life-sized dinosaurs and safari animals, an enormous fairy tale castle and a 98-foot-long light tunnel.
Visitors can experience a broad range of cultural arts — both traditional and modern — through a regular series of live performances, galleries and a holiday market across six giant heated tent areas, making it the warmest outdoor event during the winter season. Nightly music showcases will highlight local and international acts from different genres, including dance, Latin, pop and hip-hop while a collection of galleries will feature works of emerging artists from around the world.
“We will also host the second Global Modern Star Music Go kids modeling competition with Modern Star Media and Brooklyn Fashion Week,” said Chongren Fan, deputy general manager of CPAA North America. “Additionally, visitors will be able to experience paper-cutting, sugar painting, embroidery, cotton candy art and more through hands-on activities.”
Food will also be a prominent feature at the festival through its partnership with The World’s Fare, organizers of the largest and most diverse food and drink event in New York City.
The World’s Fare tastemakers will curate the festival’s tented and heated food pavilion with 60 vendors representing different cuisines and cultures, offering a diverse selection of global culinary treats.
“This is putting Queens on the map. This will be the premiere winter destination for a borough of over 2.2 million people, as well as the entire city of New York,” said Joshua Schneps, CEO of The World’s Fare. “And there’s two things that people love: they love to spend time with family and friends and they love to eat, and that’s where the partnership is formed and that’s why we’re so excited to be a part of this. We’re in the most diverse place on planet earth right here in the middle of Queens, and this festival embraces it in every aspect.”
Empanada Papa, Chori Chimi and Cbao are among the list of food vendors that will serve its cuisine at the festival.
“Our key empanadas are beef and guindilla (a Spanish pickled pepper), the chicken and pork are the top selling ones in our stores. We do a lot of pop-ups and catering,” said brother’s Jose Moreira and Pedro Moreira, of Empanada Papa, established in 2016. “One of the biggest events we did was with Josh at the LIC Flea, he did World’s Fare as well and brought us along the ride for this one as well. We’re excited to see a lot of families coming together to enjoy this moment, not just Christmas and Hanukkah, but bringing a nice new experience to New York.”
Tickets for the Hello Panda Festival will go on sale to the general public beginning Thursday, Sept. 12. Ticket prices are $22 to $28 (tax and service fees not included). For more information, visit www.hellopandafest.com or follow @hellopandafest on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Photos by Dean Moses: