About Lights of the North

About Winnipeg’s relationship with Chengdu, China

In 1988, then Mayor Bill Norrie and Chamber of Commerce President Dorothy Dobbie, travelled to Chengdu to take part in the twinning of Chengdu with the City of Winnipeg. One of the outcomes of this joint civic/business trip was the exchange of two giant pandas for a one-year visit to Winnipeg and the return gift of a pair of polar bear cubs to Chengdu. The pandas arrived in 1989 and the visit was managed for the Winnipeg Zoo by Brian Wood, the immediate past chair of the Hong Kong Business Association. It is the goal of the Committee promoting Lights of the North to reignite the Sister City relationship between Chengdu and Winnipeg.

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The Ultimate Polar Bear Adventure

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Tickets can be used on any day of the festival.

Why Now?

In Sept 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced 2018 as the Canada-China Year of Tourism. This initiative is intended to create closer ties between Chinese and Canadian citizens. 2018 also marks the 30th anniversary of the twining of Winnipeg and Chengdu. China is Canada’s second largest trading partner and our third largest generator of tourists.


  • More than 610,000 Chinese tourists visited Canada in 2016, spending nearly $1.5 billion. Almost 2 million Canadian jobs are impacted by this travel. This represents an increase in visitors of more than 20% on average each year since 2011.
  • About 5% of Canadians have Chinese ancestors. That’s about 1.7 million people. After English and French, Cantonese and Mandarin are the third most frequently spoken languages.
  • The goal is to double the number of Chinese visitors to Canada by 2021.
  • Chengdu is one of the seven new visa application centres set up by Canada in China to facilitate travel.

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Experience the Magic of Canada’s Largest Lantern Light Festival

Featured Displays

Lanterns appear regularly in many traditional Chinese festivals and celebrations as a symbol of luck and hope. Our artists will bring over 50 stunning lantern exhibits to this event and make it an unforgettable experience for everyone. Our artists were inspired during their multiple visits to Winnipeg Manitoba and created these featured exhibits that represent the culture and history of Manitoba.