To mark the end of the Chinese New Year, each year the Chinese hold a lantern festival in celebration. Traditionally held over several days, the lantern festivals feature beautiful lanterns in both traditional and intricate animal shapes. The festival is held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month of the Chinese New Year, which is the first full moon of the year.
Although the Chinese New Year doesn’t officially end until 11 February 2017, the Chinese Lantern Festival in Cary at the Booth Amphitheatre began the day after Thanksgiving in November and ends on 15 January 2017.
Colorful displays dot the landscape while soothing music fills the air. Performances of traditional dance by Chinese dancers and martial artists are a sight to behold.
Expect to spend 1-2 hours walking through the vibrant exhibit. It can get pretty crowded, so be patient. Be sure to take in each display and let it reveal all its secrets to you.
If you’ve get the munchies, they sell snacks at the concession stand and there are several food trucks serving up dumplings and other mouthwatering treats. Personally, I wasn’t hungry as I stuffed myself earlier in the day. The food smelled enticing, so bring your appetite! Had I not eaten a late lunch I would have scooped up some dumplings for sure.
They have traditional Chinese symbols such as the twelve zodiac animals, a large dragon set in the lake, and twirling and see-sawing pandas. There are also elements of a traditional Christmas such as Santa pulling his sleigh.
Other lanterns are much more whimsical. One moment you’re taking a trip under the sea amongst the jellyfish and clown fish: the next moment you’re hanging out with kangaroos or cheetahs. Terracotta warriors were posed on the hill, ready for battle. There were swans, peacocks, owls and mermaids tucked in around the park as well.
I found my zodiac symbol, the dog, as well as Juston’s symbol, the pig. We both agreed that we’d like to be dragons. I’ve never followed the Chinese zodiac, but according to the predictions, 2017 isn’t going to be a good year for either of us. Let’s hope they’re wrong!
If you want to see the Chinese Lantern Festival you’ll have to wait for next fall. Tickets are pretty inexpensive and the gates open at 6PM. It’s appropriate for all ages and if you want to see something new, be sure to catch one of the traditional dances and martial arts performances. I wanted to go the Chinese Lantern Festival last year and missed out. All the photos do is whet your appetite. This year I made sure I saw it in person. It’s so much better than looking at photos.