A 200-foot-long, 21-foot-tall mythical phoenix has invaded Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, N.C. 

Yes, the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival has returned to the Raleigh area for a fifth consecutive year! The festival, which only visits a handful of spots around the country each year, opens Nov. 22, 2019, and runs through Jan. 12, 2020. Hundreds of larger-than-life lanterns will be on display, creating an incredible, colorful adventure you can walk through this holiday season.

More than 100,000 visitors came from across the state to see the glowing pieces of art last year.

Accessibility note: This event is a self-guided walking tour. Booth Amphitheatre has paved walkways and is wheelchair accessible, including the parking area and entrance.

Chinese Lantern Festival Butterfly

The lanterns are on hand to showcase the beauty and artistry of the Chinese culture—the art of Chinese lantern making dates back more than 2,000 years, with lantern-crafting skills being passed down from one generation to the next. Today, they're popularly used to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Each lantern at this year's festival was handcrafted and assembled by more than 25 visiting Chinese artisans and performers to our area.

Chinese Lantern Festival large panda

In all, the hundreds of lanterns and more than 15,000 LED lights make up 20 distinct displays, including a new star of the show—the Feng Huang, a mythical, phoenix-like bird found in East Asian mythology that symbolizes high virtue, grace and the union of Yin and Yang. The jaw-dropping piece floats on Symphony Lake, just a stones throw from the amphitheater stage. 

Chinese Lantern Festival mythical bird

Other lanterns include a colorful butterfly gallery, a group of deer that represent wealth, larger-than-life pandas playing in a bamboo wonderland, a magical lamp with a genie hiding inside, a creepy-crawly tarantula that probably won't bite, a dinosaur-filled park where kids can go for a ride and many more (we won't spoil them all!). Some of the displays have movement, some will make you laugh and all of them are visually impressive.

Beyond beautiful lanterns, the festival also welcomes a showcase of Chinese culture—nightly performances (7, 8 and 9pm) featuring martial arts, traditional dance, acrobatics, drum performances and more. 

Chinese Lantern Festival girl on dinosaur

A typical guest may take approximately one hour to walk through the entire festival. Food and beverages will be sold on-site, including popcorn, pretzels, coffee and hot chocolate (adults can get those spiked with Bailey's!), plus beer and wine. Bring your cameras! Photography is encouraged—tag your photos on social media with #visitRaleigh and #NCChineseLanternFestival so we can check them out!

Chinese Lantern Festival performer on stage juggling

The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival will be open Tues.-Sun., 6-10pm, and also open on Mon., Dec. 23 and 30. Tickets are required (except for those ages two and under). Tickets are available online or at the box office at Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Tickets in advance are $10 for ages three through 12, and $15 for ages 13 and up. Parking is free at venue-owned parking lots.

Chinese Lantern Festival

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