They are called “lanterns,” but make no mistake – these have no resemblance to the candle light, metal frame lights used for camping. From humble beginnings of silk and paper, the Chinese lantern has evolved into the wondrous shapes and sizes of the Chinese Lantern Festival. Enter “The Wild,” a world of life-size (sometimes larger than life) 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. Others are made of small glass medicine bottles filled with colored liquid. Arranged in the shape of dragons, peacocks, and giant pearls, they glimmer like crystal rainbows.
I saw this exhibit last year and I can attest it warrants a second viewing. I was excited to hear it’s returning on November 17th and will run until January 7th at the Ohio Expo Center & State Fairgrounds. They say there will be some brand new lanterns and even more performances this year. It will be open nightly from 5:30-10pm. You walk through this exhibit and there are a few benches for seating along the way. The trail is wheel chair accessible. In addition to lanterns, nightly performances, and handicrafts, the event will also offer food and beverages. The menu includes a variety of Chinese and traditional fair food, as well as assorted beverages. The day we viewed this was pretty cold, it wasn’t very crowed, so we viewed the entire exhibit in about 45 minutes.
Sunday-Thursday: 6:30pm & 8pm
Friday & Saturday: 6:30pm, 8 & 9pm
Performances are included in festival admission.
You can buy your tickets online or at the door, no price difference. They run $15 for adults and $10 for youth 3-17. Senior Citizens and military tickets are $12 and they offer a family 4-pack for $40 for 2 adults and 2 youth. New this year is a VIP Package that include a souvenir gift, VIP eating for performances , a backstage tour and an audio guide to the lantern displays. Parking is $6/ car and they only take cash. Group rates are available for parties of 15 or more, email for more info.
We’ve also learned that Indy will also host the Indiana Chinese Lantern Festival, starting on the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 24) and lasting through Jan. 7, 2018, the Fairgrounds’ Celebration Park. Prices and performances are the same as the Columbus Festival.