The 2023 NC Chinese Lantern Festival illuminates the Triangle

The NC Chinese Lantern Festival will light up Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre from Friday, Nov. 17 to Sunday, Jan. 14 with more than 40 LED light displays.

Fish and water lily Chinese lanterns.

Most lanterns are made in Zigong, in the Sichuan province, the lantern capital of China for many centuries.

Photo by Liz Condo Photography

The NC Chinese Lantern Festival is back this week, illuminating Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre for the eighth year.

The Chinese tradition of Lantern Festivals dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.). On day 15 of the first month of the Lunar New Year, colorful lanterns are illuminated to symbolize hope, respect, and prosperity.

When the tradition first began, most of the ancient lanterns were fairly simple, but today, they are more ornate and embellished with complex designs.

In early November, more than 25 visiting Chinese artisans + performers from Tianyu Arts & Culture arrived in NC to hand assemble lanterns and prep for cultural performances. Festival-goers will soon be able to marvel in more than 40 displays that have been meticulously pieced together, like the 200-ft Chinese Dragon floating on Symphony Lake.

A dragon lantern at the 2021 Chinese Lantern Festival.

The Chinese Dragon lantern is longer than three school buses at approximately 200 feet.

Photo by Liz Condo Photography

Once guests work up an appetite walking through the thousands of LED lights, they can head to the cafe to grab an Asian-inspired dish like the Bonchon Korean chicken sandwich and crispy spring rolls. Attendees will also be able to enjoy nightly Chinese acrobatic stage performances.

Raleighites can join this cultural celebration + tradition dating back 2,000 years right here in the Triangle from Friday, Nov. 17 to Sunday, Jan. 14, with tickets starting at $11 for ages 3-12.

Pro tip: There are specialty nights and experiences available for purchase, such as the sensory friendly night on Wednesday, Dec. 6 or VIP tours to learn how the lanterns are made.

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