MILWAUKEE — The wildly popular Chinese lantern festival is back after a two-year hiatus. China Lights returns to the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee County for the fifth time this fall, running from Sept. 16 to Oct. 30.
This year, festival visitors will get a taste of “Wonderland,” Mad Hatter and Queen of Hearts included. Over 40 larger-than-life lanterns with the theme of “Adventure in Lantern Wonderland” will grace the gardens. Among them will be the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, an Illusion Tunnel, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts.
The display will stretch around a three-quarter mile walking route and include interactive elements, such as a light kaleidoscope, an illuminated drumming tree and illuminated swings.
Once visitors have completed the adventure, they’ll also be invited to a tea party for a photo opportunity with the characters.
But that’s not the end of the entertainment. As a celebration of Asian folk-culture, the festival will host live performances from entertainers on the We Energies stage every night. Food and beverage selections will also be available.
Visitors can also enjoy special theme weekends for the duration of the festival, including Chicago, Cultural, Milwaukee County Parks and other themed weekends.
Since the smash hit festival first came to the Gardens in 2016, nearly 400,000 people have attended.
“China Lights is one of those Milwaukee are events that is a ‘must-visit’ and a ‘must-selfie’. We know people are going to be especially excited to visit after a two-year break,” said Guy Smith, executive director at Milwaukee County Parks.
Smith also highlighted improved accessibility in the Gardens. He said over the last couple of years, they’ve upgraded pathways to ensure more people can enjoy the lantern festival. Milwaukee County Parks is partnering with Tianyu Arts & Culture to host the event in Milwaukee.
General admission weekday tickets start at $22 and weekend tickets at $25. You can purchase tickets on the China Lights website. This year, visitors will have to choose specific dates and time-slots for entry to the festival. Only a limited number of walk-up tickets will be available for sale and a $5 to $10 surcharge will apply.
The festival runs from Tuesday through Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., and continues through Oct. 30.