Life Staycation Travel USA

Chasing Lights: NC Chinese Lantern Festival

We had the opportunity to experience an ancient Chinese tradition over the weekend – it was illuminating!

The Chinese Lantern Festival is back for another great season. The festival travels around the country, showcasing amazing lantern displays that will transport you to China from your hometown. The festival is currently at Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary, North Carolina and ends on January 15, 2017.


The Origin of Chinese Lanterns

Chinese lanterns originate from the Eastern Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). They can be  made with different materials such as silk, paper, wood, bamboo and straw. They were used as lights for homes, palaces and streets. The common red lanterns (oval, decorated lanterns) are hung as a symbol for prosperity in life.

Emperor Han Mingdi of the Han Dynasty got the idea to hang lanterns after learning Buddhist monks lit lanterns as a sign of respect for Buddha on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. The Emperor ordered that everyone in his realm should do the same. It quickly became a widespread festival celebrated in February or March each year.


The Displays

Walk the trails and enjoy the well-crafted lanterns created by a talented team of artists. There are 20 all new displays at this year’s festival with the return of its 200 foot long Chinese Dragon on Symphony Lake. Believe me when I say this: it is a huge dragon! Its body seems endless!



Cultural performances and artisan crafts are another addition to this year’s festivities. We really enjoyed the solo dance performance and the acrobats. The performances, decorative lanterns and music combined created an ambiance of a genuine Chinese festival.

Fun for Everyone

The NC Chinese Lantern Festival is a great option for people who want to have a unique cultural experience during the holidays. I recommend a visit to the festival for anyone who is looking for a fun night out. We saw couples, families and people of all ages who were enjoying themselves. Not to mention we had one of the best outings ever!

You can purchase tickets upon arrival (the line can get very long though!) or buy them online. Parking is free of charge and there are food vendors available for drinks and meal purchases.

We had an amazing time and would love to return again! I will leave you with a few more photos of the lanterns we saw on our visit.






We were invited as guests by the Koka Booth Amphitheater, as always my opinions are my own.

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