For the 6th year, the Chinese Lantern Festival was on full display at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, NC. I had seen it advertised over the years, but by the time I got around to looking into tickets, it was too late. So, this year, I got online and bought “twilight” tickets for the festival’s opening night. What a great decision that turned out to be!
Right from the beginning, the entrance provides a glimpse of 2500 lanterns lights used to create 36 groupings spread out across the grounds. The lanterns are created by hand on silk fabric stretched over steel frames and lit with hundreds of LEDs. Most of them are made in Zigong China, in the Sichuan province, the lantern capital of China for many centuries. According to the festival website, “most traditional Chinese lantern festivals are celebrated on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar, marking the last day of the lunar New Year.” Chinese artisans assembled the lanterns and readied the amphitheater for the multimedia experience that runs from Nov 19 thru Jan 9.
My twilight tickets allowed me entry into the festival 90 minutes before the first show at 6:30 pm, which afforded me the opportunity to view the lanterns before the big crowds arrived and to view them in both twilight and darkness after the sun set at around 5 pm. Most of the groupings were positioned along a walkway on Symphony Lake which seemingly doubled the lighting through their water reflections.
Sometimes adulting is really hard, but on days like today when I can eat kettle corn while strolling through an awesome festival without worrying about being told it’ll ruin my dinner, being a grown-up isn’t so bad! Don’t tell my momma 😉
As daylight waned, the vivid colors of the lanterns against the dark sky created a magical experience.
It was a little disappointing that the only cuisine available in the food truck court at a Chinese festival were Mediterranean, Cajun, and Japanese. I typically shy away from any food labeled “Cajun” outside of Louisiana, so I opted for the cultural option geographically closest to China. The Japanese gyoza, edamame, and hot ginger tea topped off my kettle corn snack quite nicely 😊
The night ended with an acrobat show on the main stage that involved illusions, hula hoops, diabolos (Chinese yo-yos), and a unicycle. The festival was interesting and beautiful – I’m glad I braved the chilly temperatures to take it in. If you’re in the area, I definitely recommend checking it out.