Oh the weather outside is frightful! Greetings from Indiana on a snowy and icy day where I’m stuck inside and dreaming of spring. Luckily we had a five day break from winter’s extremes earlier this week, so I was able to squeeze in a visit to the Indiana Chinese Lantern Festival on the last day of its run. I’d been trying to get to this new event since opening day November 24, but between a full schedule for Christmas and the two weeks long deep freeze that followed, it didn’t happen sooner. Temperatures were in the lower 30s Sunday, still chilly but totally doable after subzero and single digit weather. I went with my friends Wendie and Jason and it was absolutely gorgeous! We did not stay for any of the performances, which included Chinese acrobats and folk dancers; instead we headed out for pizza and beer afterwards to warm up.
We arrived early enough to see the lanterns at dusk. I liked seeing the lanterns in both the daylight and at nighttime. The lanterns have a completely different look during the day. I especially like the how the lanterns looked at dusk, right before darkness fell.
The festival entrance is via the Indiana State Fairgrounds’ covered bridge, which was hung with lanterns and icicle lights. The lanterns are concentrated in an area of the fairgrounds that includes Celebration Park and the outdoor area near the Department of Natural Resources building.
There were 33 lantern display areas in the festival, including a bamboo forest panda playground, a coral reef of brightly colored fish, several large arches to walk under, and a 200 foot long dragon. All of the lanterns were created by hand by artists from Zigong, Sichuan (the region in China known for lantern-making) using silk, steel frames, and LED lights. The festival was presented by Tianyu Arts & Culture, who organizes Chinese cultural events and lantern festivals across the world, including 15 cities in the U.S. Check the bottom of Tianyu’s home page to see if there is a current or upcoming event similar to the Indiana Chinese Lantern Festival near you.
Chinese lantern festivals date back to around 207 BC, and are traditionally associated with the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year starts on the date of the new moon that occurs between January 21 and February 20, which is February 16 this year. There was a Chinese zodiac lantern display as part of the festival, showcasing the twelve different zodiac animals. 2018 is the year of the dog. Find your Chinese Zodiac animal sign.
My favorite lantern displays were the giant swans, blue flower arches, and the lanterns hanging from the covered bridge. Wendie and Jason both picked the massive dragon lantern as their favorite. Which lantern display is your favorite? Leave a comment below, and may your dark days of winter be brightened with warm memories!