Evening skies will be ablaze with color and light at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden beginning Thursday, Sept. 7, as the Chinese Lantern Festival kicks off an eight-week exhibition in Belmont.

More than 800 hand-crafted Chinese lanterns will take residence throughout 12-plus acres of formal gardens and public space in the largest exhibition to date at the botanical garden.

From modest origins of paper and silk, the Chinese lantern has evolved into wondrous shapes and sizes — turquoise and aqua-marine giant jellyfish, brilliant straw-colored and black-spotted cheetahs, glowing orange and green praying mantis, and ladybugs the size of small children.

Each lantern is fashioned by masters from Zigong, China, the center of the country’s lantern heritage, using a tradition that extends back centuries. The lanterns are created using steel frames surrounded by colorful rayon “skins” and illuminated from within by LED lights. Additional mosaic-like displays are formed with small glass medicine bottles filled with brightly colored liquid to create dragons, peacocks and giant pearls that glimmer and sparkle in the crisp fall air.

One of the most spectacular displays towers more than 20 feet high and features four nearly-life-size elephants constructed entirely of blue and white cups, saucers and plates. The elephants discharge water from their trunks, creating a whimsical fountain sure to delight the child in all of us.

Performing and visual arts complement the nighttime glow-show as garden guests will enjoy nightly kung fu demonstrations, hands-on instruction by master martial arts champions, authentic shadow plays and a Chinese folk-art marketplace. Asian-inspired food is available for purchase from the food-trucks on hand.

Daniel Stowe’s newly-installed Asian garden helps set the mood by showcasing Japanese maples, bamboo, ornamental grasses, iris, ferns set amidst traditional Asian elements of moss, rock and raked sand. A Japanese Bonsai exhibit, developed in concert with the Bonsai Society, is also highlighted.

“We always look to create incredible garden experiences that help people better appreciate nature and the beauty nature creates,” says DSBG Chief Operating Officer Jim Hoffman. “The Chinese Lantern Festival is an opportunity for people to learn about Asian culture through a rich, immersive experience that is wonderful for the entire family.”

Want to Go?

What: Chinese Lantern Festival.

Where: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, 6500 S. New Hope Road, Belmont.

When: Wednesdays-Sundays Sept. 7-Oct. 29, 5:30-9:30 p.m.

Tickets: Purchase advance tickets online at DSBG.org — $21.95 for adults, $19.95 for seniors 60 and up and $14.95 for children ages 2-12). Children under 2 get in free.

Note: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden remains open daily for general admission from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., with daytime entry ending at 4 p.m.


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