ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – The heat isn’t stopping record crowds from taking in the Lantern Festival exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Garden
“Lantern Festival, Art by Day Magic by Night” is set to close August 19th.
Lynn Kerkemeyer, Senior Manager of Events and Exhibits says they’ve had several nights where tickets have sold out.
Since the exhibit of 26 larger than life steel–wrapped in silk–lanterns opened, 115-thousand people have come, many whom have come during the day and again at night when the lanterns are illuminated at 8 p.m. “Like Chihuly (the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit), we’ve had people come up to 6 times to see the exhibit.”
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Chihuly attracted 88-thousand visitors. Kerkemeyer says they’re also breaking records with the number of volunteers who have signed up and membership in the Garden due to the Lantern exhibit could exceed those prompted by the Chihully exhibit.
Visitors have come from all 50 states, Canada and Mexico to see it. Kerkemeyer suggests going on Sunday evenings as the crowds are smaller. She says Thursday and Saturday nights have been the most popular.
The 26 detailed Lantern Festival sets depict people, plants, animals, buildings and mythical creatures from Chinese legend and past. Each piece is created by canvassing molded steel armature with yard upon yard of brightly-colored silks. Seams are trimmed with shiny gold ribbon and fine details are hand-painted. Mythical dragons, traditional symbols of the Chinese people, are prominent throughout the exhibition in a nod to the lucky “Year of the Dragon” in the Chinese Zodiac. An impressive 137-foot Welcoming Dragon greets visitors at the Missouri Botanical Garden entrance. The show-stopping Porcelain Dragon pair, made of approximately 40,000 hand-tied pieces of blue-and-white porcelain dishware, raises their heads and billow smoke each evening.
China’s famed Terracotta Army warriors and the towering Beijing Heavenly Temple constructed in 1420 are replicated in silk lantern form. The Nine-Dragon Mural brings an architectural version from Beijing to life through slowly-slithering dragons.
The stories of several Chinese legends are celebrated and illustrated through lanterns. Learn about the tale of Jiang Tai Gong Fishing, the “patient fisherman.” Explore the love stories behind the Double Seventh Festival, China’s version of Valentine’s Day, and Butterfly Lovers, the Chinese Romeo and Juliet.
Stroll under the archway of dancing fairy spirits called The Flying Apsaras or beneath the rainbow-hued Moonlit Pathway. Pause for a photo opportunity in front of a depiction of a traditional Chinese Blissful Wedding. Look for panda bears, lotus flowers and representations of Buddha among the well-recognized symbols and figures of China showcased in lantern form.
Each evening, in addition to the 26 glowing Lantern Festival sets, enjoy a traditional festival atmosphere complete with cultural entertainment for all ages. Take in nightly stage shows at the outdoor Cohen Amphitheater and indoor Shoenberg Theater, featuring a skilled sand artist and the dazzling antics and acrobatics of the ChenLong Troupe. Visit the Wishing Tree and the Wishing Well to hope for good luck, and purchase a variety of souvenir items and experiences from traditional artisans’ booths.
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