New York State Chinese Lantern Festival
Have you heard about the New York State Chinese Lantern Festival?
This beautiful cultural event is being held at the New York State Fairgrounds (Syracuse, NY) from April 14th to June 24th. It will be open every day except for Mondays. Tickets to the festival are $15 for most attendees, with special prices for children and seniors.
Inside the festival, you can feast your eyes on more than 30 lantern displays. Among these are:
- a fierce, 200-foot dragon leaping through the water
- a group of playful baby pandas
- intricate archways
- elegant and colorful peacocks
- majestic tigers
- the animals of the Chinese zodiac
- and fields full of colorful flowers.
All of these are situated along an easily navigable, 1.5-mile gravel path - A perfect way to get a little exercise and see some cool stuff at the same time. :)
The lanterns are all comprised of welded metal frames, colorful stretched fabric, and LED lights. Each one is handmade by artisans from Sichuan, China.
In addition to these awe-inspiring lanterns, there are a few other entertainment options inside the festival. Each night there are shows at 6:30 and 8:30 PM. These performances feature acrobats, face changers, contortionists, and other traditional Chinese acts.
There are also vendors selling art and other items. I saw some neat weaved art pieces that I found particularly interesting.
As for the available food options, I was left unimpressed. There was a Greek place, a pizza truck, a noodle stand, and a hot dog truck...None of which appeared to be very vegan-friendly. We had already eaten when we arrived, so we didn't investigate any further. I can't say that it seemed very promising, though.
I can, however, suggest a couple of excellent nearby restaurants! Check out Funk 'n Waffles on Clinton Street and/or Strong Hearts Cafe on Genesee Street. The former is an omni restaurant featuring several vegan options, and the latter is a totally vegan establishment. Both are absolutely delicious! (Reviews for both coming soon!)
And now, back to our lanterns...
Did You Know? The Chinese Lantern Festival may originate as far back as the Han dynasty - that is, 206 BCE to 220 CE. Buddhist monks lit lanterns on the 15th day of the lunar new year, in honor of Buddha.
Legend has it that there is more to the story. It is said that the Jade Emperor, You Di, was angry with a village and planned to burn it down. His plan, however, was derailed by a benevolent fairy.
On the night that You Di planned to burn the village, the fairy warned the endangered townspeople. They were told to light numerous lanterns around town. The people followed the fairy’s instructions, and when You Di looked out to see the village aglow, he assumed that his job had been done for him.
The village was saved. The people of the village were grateful, and in celebration, they continued to light the lanterns, year after year.
How cool is that?
Learning about other cultures makes for a well-rounded, interesting life, and events like this festival make doing so simple.
So, if you’re looking for something fun and educational to do between now and June 24th, head out to the New York State fairgrounds and check out the Chinese Lantern Festival.
I recommend arriving at the festival about an hour before sunset. You'll have a chance to see the smaller details of the lanterns in the golden hour, grab a snack, check out the vendors, and then catch the 8:30 show. After that, I suggest a second jaunt around the path to see how the lanterns transform after dark. We were very happy that we did this, and I think it made for a nice variety of photos. :)
If you’re not in the Syracuse area, you may find a similar event near you. Just search for “Chinese Lantern Festival” in your area, and go from there! This is a beautiful springtime tradition that you don’t want to miss!
You’ll find lots of fun, some excellent photo opportunities, and hopefully, a newfound respect for Chinese culture.