We got a taste of this spectacle last year with the arrival of the Winter Lantern Festival at Snug Harbor on Staten Island. This year, two additional festivals have been created, one on Randall’s Island, the other at CitiField. All three are running through January!
What is going on?
It’s a newish trend in NYC but also happening in other parts of the country, especially California.
One, all things Asian are trending. Whether it’s Asian food or culture or entertainment it’s all becoming more popular and cool.
Second, Lantern Festivals are next level when it comes to pop-up instagrammable experiences. Forget about the Color Factory or the Ice Cream Museum. Now we’re creating 16-acre outdoorsy theme parks geared to the ‘Gram.
And while I have ranted many times about how bored I am with made-for-Instagram experiences, I have to confess that the minute I saw an Instagram ad for LuminoCity, I was intrigued.
Sadly, LuminoCity has gotten some of the most horrendous reviews I’ve ever seen, e.g., for the opening weekend, there was no lighting, people were being forced to wander around in pitch darkness with only their cellphones to guide them, people were tripping and falling on uneven and slippery walkways, food was hard to come by. Shuttle buses were not running as scheduled. Everything that could go wrong apparently did. Based on LuminoCity’s website, they have no experience in events or festivals so I’m not surprised. Nor am I optimistic they will work out the kinks anytime soon.
The Hello Panda Festival at CitiField, on the other hand, is a much surer bet. The organizers have it way more together (they’ve previously done events at Lincoln Center). Also, the location seems to be more manageable since it is accessible by subway.
The NYC Winter Lantern Festival on Staten Island at the Botanical Garden is in its second year and seems well-organized.
Getting to Staten Island, however, requires a subway, a ferry and a bus. Not going to make it!
I’m leaning to the Hello Panda Festival unless I hear some amazing “recovery” stories indicating LuminoCity has gotten their act together!
But this is not just happening in NYC.
Cities all around the country are getting their first taste of Lantern awesomeness, e.g., Luminosa Chinese Lantern Festival will be brought to Miami for the first time. Other cities with seemingly amazing festivals include Nashville, New Orleans, Phoenix and, of course, California!
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The Magical Chinese Lantern Festival returns to light up the night in Pomona/Los Angeles with its BRAND NEW illuminated theme- “Blooming Seasons.”
Moonlight Forest Magical Lantern Art Festival is back by popular demand at the LA County Arboretum and Botanic Garden with dazzling new lanterns and interactive experiences. Created by artisans from China’s Sichuan province, the Arboretum has partnered with Tianyu Arts & Culture Inc. to celebrate the time-honored tradition of lantern art.
Lights of the World at the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix returns for the third year with completely new light displays combining the age-old tradition of paper lanterns with cutting-edge technology. The Lights of the World lantern displays extend from 18 to 60 feet, amounting to over 10 million colorful lights, and showcases different cultures and civilizations around the globe.
Zoolumination: Chinese Festival of Lights spread over 60 acres at the Nashville Zoo.