5 Things to Know: Chinese Lantern Festival

This past weekend we finally got the chance to check out the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens and it did not disappoint! It’s only around until May 19th, so if you’re wanting to go, you’ll need to go soon! Boasting more than 1,000 illuminated lantern displays of wildlife from around the world (and dinosaurs!), this festival offers a stunning visual exhibition of Chinese art and culture. Enter “The Wild,” a world of life-size illuminated panda bears, lions, flamingos and more fauna from the world’s seven continents. Each of the lanterns is made by masters of the craft in Zigong, China’s center of lantern heritage.

Here are 5 things you need to know if you go:

1. It’s worth waiting until dark:

While you can go anytime during the week, during the day, these beautiful displays light up at night making it well worth the late night drive home. We headed up about 4pm, grabbed dinner off site then got to the gardens just before sunset. You will also have the option to visit the dinosaur rides and to see some live performances and puppet shows that aren’t offered during the day.

2. Take a stroller or wagon:

The Lantern trail is about 1 mile long and will probably take you about an hour and half to walk through. If you have littles that don’t like to walk or tire easily, take a stroller or wagon. You won’t have any trouble navigating the path.

3. Have a camera or phone for photos:

Much like Candytopia, there is a lot to photograph.

4. Bug Spray:

We live in the south and the mosquitoes are out in full force already, give yourself a quick spritz to keep from getting eaten while you’re there.

5. Skip the light up balloon:

As you walk in, your kiddos are going to see this really cool, clear light up balloon on a stick, and they are going to want it. At the age of 11, my twins were all about it and HAD to have it. So I caved.. $15 each… we weren’t out of the vendors sight before the first one broke. We exchanged it for a new one, that also broke about 1/2 through. The other quit lighting up about 3/4 of the way through. By the time we got the lights were falling off the whole thing and they went directly in the trash. Right towards the end there was a tent that offered several other really cool items from lanterns, to sugar sculptures. I’m not sure they’re open everyday so check with the desk before promising something cooler than the balloon further into the trail.

The Wild – A Chinese Lantern Festival is happening until May 19th at the Hunstville Botanical Gardens
Daytime Hours:
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Evening Hours (Wednesday – Sunday Only):
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. with last admission taken at 9:00 p.m.

Parking is Free and on busy nights you will be directed on where to go.

Other festival activities include:

Live Kung Fu performances at 6:00 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. (weather permitting)
Chinese shadow puppetry performances at 7:00 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.
Dinosaur rides for kids (evenings only)
A marketplace featuring authentic Chinese folk arts and crafts
Food trucks (as available)

For ticket information and pricing or to purchase tickets visit their website




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