It’s not just a magical experience to see the Lantern Festival exhibition at the Missouri Botanical Garden aglow in the evening—it’s also an entertaining one! Be enchanted as the 26 lantern scenes flood the Garden with light at 8 p.m. each exhibition evening and enjoy a traditional festival atmosphere complete with cultural entertainment for all ages.
Cohen Amphitheater, 6:45 and 8 p.m.
Be dazzled by the magical and ancient Chinese dramatic art of bian lian, or face changing. It is said that ancient people painted their faces to drive away wild animals. Sichuan Opera absorbs this ancient skill and perfects it into an art. Don’t blink or you might miss the wave of an arm, as our artist changes the masks with lightning fast speed!
Enjoy a demonstration by our dainty acrobatic juggler. This is no ordinary juggling—in this act, the foot is quicker than the hand!
Our acrobatic performers are highly trained in feats of flexibility, strength, balance and contortion. Watch as performers lift and balance each other’s bodies in a show of extraordinary athletic skill and strength called acrobalance.
Shoenberg Theater, 7, 7:30 and 8 p.m.
Experience the traditional Chinese performance art of sand animation. Our skilled sand artisan will take you on a journey from Asia to North America, showing you monuments and structures from countries that have played host to a Lantern Festival, including, for the first time, the United States.
Watch as our artist travels from east to west through his designs. Look for depictions of the Great Wall (China), Merlion (Singapore) and Twin Tower (Malaysia), all from Asia; windmills (Holland) and the Brandenburg Gate (Berlin, Germany) from Europe; and the CN Tower (Canada), Statue of Liberty (U.S) and, of course, St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, all representing North America.
Please note: In the case of inclement weather or ground saturation, all programs will move to the Shoenberg Theater in the Ridgway Visitor Center. An adjusted performance schedule will be posted upon entry.
Souvenir & Dining Experiences
The wishing tree is a celebrated element of lantern festivals in China. An oversized coin is tied to the end of a red ribbon. Make a silent wish and toss the coin into the designated wishing tree, aiming for the highest branch possible. Traditional belief is that the wish will come true. The wishing tree is also a sight to see when decorated with hundreds of dangling ribbons. $2 cash.
Turn your pocket change into good luck at the wishing well. Lore suggests that certain wells could grant a spoken wish or grant wisdom in exchange for a sacrifice. Coins also had properties that kept water from tasting sour, so it became “lucky” to throw them in wells. In this Chinese version, the “wishing well” has an ornate red silk backdrop with metal gongs dangling from a suspended bar. Each of the eight small gongs is labeled in Chinese with a different wish—health, wealth, happiness and more. State the wish you desire, throw a coin at the label to sound the gong and your wish will be granted!
Lantern Festival Bazaar and Food Court
Shop the special outdoor Lantern Festival Bazaar filled with beautiful Asian merchandise and souvenirs selected by Garden Gate Shop buyers. Pick up Asian-inspired fare available for purchase at the Food Court, including crispy pork pot stickers, vegetable egg rolls, crab Rangoon, fried rice, lo mein noodle salad and more. The Lantern Festival Bazaar and Food Court are located on Linnean Plaza and open from 6 to 10 p.m. on Lantern Festival evenings.
Additional dining selections are also available for purchase inside the Sassafras café at the Ridgway Visitor Center, open 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Lantern Festival evenings.
Purchase a variety of souvenir items and experiences from traditional artisans. Offerings rotate nightly and prices vary; cash, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover are accepted on site. A sampling of the activities to enjoy includes:
Watch as a sugar painter creates an animal or other artistic pattern in this unique art form. The skilled artisan will use a brush to stroke hot liquid sugar into an intricate design, working very quickly before the liquid cools to a solid. The entire creation is made from a single continuous line of sugar. The final creation is a special souvenir to keep—or to eat!
This traditional form of seal art originated in ancient China. Artists engrave words, poems or pictures onto the side surface of a seal (as opposed to the bottom), giving each seal a decorative flair all its own.
The Chinese people have been sculpting edible wheat and rice flour into dough figurines for centuries, as far back as the Tang dynasty of 618 to 907 A.D. The figurines have been used as offerings in tombs and at banquet feast tables, and also as children’s toys or to eat. The dough is made from a careful mixture of ingredients so it is easy to mold yet can last for years. Colorful pieces are carefully sculpted by hand, using sharp objects to add fine details.
Opera Face Masks
Facial makeup is an integral part of Chinese opera, a special art that adds distinction, quality and exaggerated expression to roles. Colors reflect the disposition of each character. Have your own face mask elaborately painted in a traditional Chinese opera design.
Pictographic dragon and phoenix calligraphy originated during the Han dynasty and grew in popularity through the Tang dynasty. The decorative form of calligraphy features colorful birds, flowers, butterflies and patterns painted into the shapes of letters in a name.
Dress up in costumes that mimic the everyday fashions worn during the Ming, Tang and Ping Dynasties, each featuring design elements that represent particular characteristics. Bring a camera to capture a shot for your own personal enjoyment.
An artisan will engrave a miniature picture or message of your choice onto a pearl using this specialized technique and the assistance of a microscope.
Paper Cutting (Jianzhi)
Chinese paper cutting has been around for centuries, ever since paper was introduced during the Eastern Han Dynasty. Intricate Jianzhi designs are most often used as decorations to adorn doors and windows (also called “Window Flower”) and are said to bring good luck.
Embroidery is the ancient art of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yearn. In this technique, other materials such as pearls, beads, quills and sequins are incorporated to create various pictures and scenery.
Please note: The Climatron®, Shoenberg Temperate House, Brookings Interpretive Center and Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden close at 5 p.m. on Lantern Festival evenings. After 7:30 p.m., visitor traffic is one-way inside the Chinese Garden; enter at the Moon Gate near the Heavenly Temple. The Japanese Garden closes at 8 p.m.
The Lantern Festival will be at the Missouri Botanical Garden until August 19, 2012.
Now through July 29: Thursday through Sunday evenings, 6 to 10 p.m. (last entry at 9 p.m.) and August 1-19: Monday through Sunday evenings, 6 to 10 p.m. (last entry at 9 p.m.). Special evening exhibition rates apply on Thursday through Sunday evenings from 6 to 10 p.m. (lanterns are lit at 8 p.m.):
US$22 adults (ages 13 & over)
US$10 children (ages 3—12)
Free children ages 2 & under
The exhibition is included with daytime Garden admission which is US$8 adults (ages 13 & over) and free for children (ages 12 & under)
2012 Lantern Festival tickets can be purchased online. Visit www.missouribotanicalgarden.org for more information.