The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival will be returning to Cary starting November 14th and running through January 8th. You can save money by purchasing advance tickets here. Note that there are several options for tickets, including any date tickets ($30), date specific tickets (range from $11-$20), VIP experience, twilight experience, and sensory friendly night tickets. It is highly recommended that you buy tickets ahead of time, as it can be quite popular on weekends and may sell out!
We enjoyed attending the festival last year and spent about 2 hours there total walking around looking at the light displays and watching the live acrobatic performances on stage. They take place at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30, so you'll have several chances to catch them. They're so much fun to watch! They also have an area perfect for children with light up swings, and a piano on the ground that illuminates when you run on it. It was quite chilly the night we went, so be sure to dress in layers and bring a rain jacket or umbrella just in case.
Be sure to check out all the zodiac animals and pose by the one of your birth year. 2023 will be the year of the rabbit!
Location: Koka Booth Amphitheatre: 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary, NC 27518
Parking: Free, but they do offer a limited number of preferred parking passes that can be purchased for $10 a car. Parking lot usually opens one hour prior to the gates opening. Most tickets will allow entry at 6:00 pm, except for the Twilight Experience that begins earlier.
About the lanterns (from the Booth Amphitheatre website):
The spectacular Chinese Dragon floating on Symphony Lake is longer than three school buses at approximately 200 feet. It stands 21 feet high and weighs 18,000 pounds.
Fun fact: its head was installed by a crane with a 15-person crew!
Each lantern is created by hand on silk fabric stretched over steel frames and then lit with upwards of hundreds of LED.
Lanterns are designed exclusively for this event with materials shipped from China into the North Carolina Ports in Wilmington.
It takes 15+ tractor-trailers to deliver materials for our visiting artisans to assemble this year’s 36 lantern groupings.
Most lanterns are made in only one city: Zigong, in the Sichuan province, the lantern capital of China for many centuries.
Our visiting artisans have lantern-crafting skills that are passed down from one generation to the next.
Most traditional Chinese lantern festivals are celebrated on the 15th day of the first month in the lunar calendar, marking the last day of the lunar New Year. This tradition dates back 2000 years.
In ancient times, lanterns were fairly simple and only the emperor and noblemen had large, ornate ones. In modern times, lanterns have been embellished with complex designs such as the ones on display here in Cary.
The prominence of red in the designs symbolizes good fortune in the new year.
Have you attended this festival before or will you be going this year? Let me know in the comments! If you want to continue the Chinese experience, there are two great spots to enjoy hotpot in Cary - SoHot and Szechuan Mansion.