Decorative Chinese-inspired lanterns will light up two locations in the New York City area this winter, as the Winter Lantern Festival makes its debut at New Jersey’s American Dream starting Oct. 26., and returns to Queen County Farm Museum starting Nov. 17.
While the colorful lanterns are primed for Instagram likes and create a warm cozy holiday lights feel, the Winter Lantern Festival said that it gets its inspiration from traditional Chinese lantern festivals, which date back to the Han dynasty from 206 BCE to 220 CE.
“Walk through a world full of lights and lanterns lovingly handmade by artisans — some with over 20 years of experience — and learn about the culture and craftsmanship of traditional Chinese lantern festivals,” says the event site. “Every detail, from the traditional Chinese silk cloth to the painted designs, will be illuminated as creatures made of lanterns come to life before your eyes.”
As legend goes, the Jade Emperor was furious his goose had been killed and planned to set a town on fire. But a fairy told the townspeople to light up lanterns so it would appear like the town was already on fire. The plan worked and the town was saved, so now, on the 15th day of every Lunar New Year, lanterns are lit as a sign of appreciation.
While the upcoming Lunar New Year doesn’t start until Feb. 10, 2024, with the lantern festival technically taking place at the end of that month, the Winter Lantern Festival takes its inspiration to showcase these intricate light forms at the two NYC area locations, as well in Atlanta’s Gwinnett County Fairgrounds from Nov. 10, 2024 to Jan. 2, 2025, and yet-to-be-announced locations in Virginia, according to its Instagram account.
Each location also has its own experiences. In New Jersey, guests can make their own paper lanterns at the crafts table and interact with dinosaur creations, while in both Queens, New York, and Atlanta, visitors will be able to see sugar paintings, a bounce house, light swings, see-saws, and tunnels.
At the New Jersey location, standard admission starts at $17 for those 13 and up and $10 for those ages 4 to 13; in Queens, it’s $22 for those 13 and up and $18 for those 4 to 13; and the Atlanta location charges $26 for those 13 and up and $18 for those 4 to 13.
No matter which site you go to, the Winter Lantern Festival promises to be “a whimsical walk-through experience to light up and warm up the season,” according to its site.