Road Trip: China Lights

(Not from Chicago? Other light displays can be found in these states)

China Lights is a large-scale lantern display that has to be seen to be appreciated. My pictures will not do it justice.  But just to give you an idea of how cool it is:

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Lantern festivals can be traced back more than 2000 years to the Han Dynasty. Traditionally, this festival took place on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese calendar. People prayed for good health and good fortune by lighting lanterns and shooting fireworks in the sky.

This festival takes place on the grounds of the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners, WI. It consists of almost 40 displays constructed with bright colors and illuminated with LED lighting.  Right now, the botanical garden is open from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. The China Lights festival then opens from 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm (closed Mondays). I would definitely recommend getting there after the sun sets to experience the full effect of the light display.

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Tickets are $20 per person (less for children and seniors). I found a deal on Groupon that gets you admission plus the mobile guide (a self-guided mobile tour app – $5.00) for only $19.00. I purchased our tickets this way but never figured out how to access the mobile guide. You don’t need the guide to navigate your way through the festival so I wouldn’t pay extra for it if I were you. You can also pre-purchase parking online as well. For $10, you get a spot in a lot right next to the entrance for China Lights. There is also complimentary (free) parking and shuttle service, but I was not up to the challenge of finding those lots in an area I was not familiar with.

The displays were much larger and more colorful than I expected.

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There was also a description of that display’s significance to China’s history at many of the stops.  Maybe this is where the mobile guide would have been useful . . .

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Some of the displays had changing colors and some of them had moving parts (watch the flowers).

Stage performances, highlighting Asian culture and art, took place as well. We caught two different acrobatic acts.

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It was a chilly night for us, but this was definitely worth the trip.  If you can make it there before it closes next week, I highly recommend this.  If not, I will keep you posted on its return next year!

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