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The NC Chinese Lantern Festival lights up the Triangle

Celebrate the Lunar New Year at Koka Booth Amphiteatre.

A dragon lantern at the 2021 Chinese Lantern Festival.

Last year’s Chinese Dragon lantern was longer than three school buses at approximately 200 feet.

Photo by Liz Condo Photography

The Chinese tradition of Lantern Festivals dates back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD). On the fifteenth day 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.

Raleighites can join the 2,000-year-old celebration at the annual NC Chinese Lantern Festival from Fri., Nov. 18 to Sun., Jan. 8 at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphiteatre. Last year, the festival broke records by attracting more than 200,000 visitors. The event will feature 40+ new displays, all crafted by Chinese artisans and comprised of hundreds of parts and thousands of lights.

A giant octopus lantern at last year's NC Chinese Lantern Festival.

Each lantern is created by hand with silk fabric.

Liz Condo Photography

Each larger-than-life lantern is designed with materials shipped from China into the NC ports in Wilmington. The silk fabrics will be stretched by hand over steel frames and lit with LED lights. You may notice lots of red. The prominence of this color in the designs symbolizes good fortune in the new year.

After exploring the lanterns, don’t miss the Chinese cultural performances on the main stage every night. If you get hungry, there will be rotating food trucks on site throughout the event.

Tickets are available now ($11-35).