About 200 glowing lanterns dangle overhead, emitting brightly colored lights onto the entryway to Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre while a party of playful pandas look out over the venue’s Symphony Lake.
There are snowmen, elephants, Chinese Zodiac creatures, and the return of the 200-foot-long Chinese dragon that gracefully towers on Symphony Lake.
“Everything is new with the exception of the dragon and the pandas,” said Lyman Collins, the town’s cultural arts division manager. “I think I’d be run out of town if we didn’t bring back the dragon. Everyone loved the dragon.”
Welcome to the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival, a wonderland of 20 displays, each created by hand with silk, hundreds of parts and more than 15,000 LED lights.
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“There are so many things I think that can take your breath away,” Collins said.
Cary’s second Chinese Lantern Festival begins Friday, Nov. 25, and will run through Jan. 15.
Tianyu Arts and Culture, a Zigong, Sichuan-based company, is presenting the festival again this year after last year’s inaugural event proved to be one of the venue’s most popular attractions last year. The festival attracted 52,000 people and generated $675,000 in revenue from ticket sales. It was so successful that the event, which was set to be a month long, was extended by two weeks.
Several additions this year include cultural performances, such as traditional Chinese dances and Chinese acrobatics, artisan crafts and demonstrations on how the lanterns are built, Collins said. Performances are included with admission and will occur throughout the night, lasting about 15 minutes each.
“For people who haven’t seen it, they’ve just got a whole new world to completely explore,” Collins said.
The festival is open 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays and closed Mondays, except for Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for children but free for children two years old and under.
Visitors are encouraged to take photos and post them on social media with the #ncchineselanternfestival and #KokaBooth hashtags.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon
Want to go?
The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival is Friday, Nov. 25, to Sunday, Jan. 15, at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary. More than 20 new displays will be featured. The festival is open Tuesdays through Sundays, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 3-17 and free for children ages 2 and younger. Call 919-459-8319 for groups of 20 or more. Parking is free at venue-owned lots. Lawn chairs, food and drinks and pets are not allowed. Strollers, cameras and video recorders are. 800-514-3849, boothamphitheatre.com
Did you know?
▪ The Chinese Dragon lantern is longer than three school buses and weighs 18,000 pounds. The creature – 200 feet long and 21 feet high – was installed by 15 people.
▪ Some lanterns are made just for Cary’s event and were shipped in 14 containers from China to North Carolina.
▪ Lanterns are only made in one city in China: Zigong, Sichuan.
▪ See lots of red in the designs? That symbolizes good fortune.
Source: Koka Booth Amphitheatre