Good Fortune: Our Preview Of The Chinese Lantern Festival

With more than 30 sets of illuminated displays, the Chinese Lantern Festival lights up the Indiana State Fairgrounds through January 7.
Holiday lights of a different ilk, the Chinese Lantern Festival proposes a family-friendly breath of fresh air this season. Although not technically Christmas-y, but certainly festive, the exhibit anchors the western end of the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

The vibrant display marks Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc.’s first visit to Indiana as part of an ongoing national tour. Visible from afar on the approach into the parking lot, the 33 larger-than-life Chinese lantern vignettes cover themes from animals and architecture to history and culture. Visitors enter the exhibit at the covered bridge, which is all dressed up for the occasion with hanging traditional Chinese lanterns adorned with LED lights to create a melting icicle effect.

There’s so much to see here, it’s nearly overwhelming. Visitors should plan to spend at least an hour exploring the displays that line the looping path. Dazzling and spectacular, a few of the more notable set-ups include an unfurling 300-foot-long dragon, an army of Chinese terra cotta warriors that calls to the mind the exhibit that came through The Children’s Museum in 2014, pandas nestled within a bamboo forest, and riotously colorful jellyfish. Signage at each display offers a bit of background.

The performance stage stays constantly occupied with a transitioning slate of music, dancing, juggling, plate spinning, acrobatics and other entertainment. If the members of your party work up an appetite, several fairgrounds food stands are on hand serving up corn dogs, cotton candy, and caramel apples.

If you go: The Chinese Lantern Festival is open nightly from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. now through January 7, 2018. Admission is $15 per adult and $10 for kids, with a family four-pack option available that includes two adult and two child admissions for $40. Military and seniors get in for $12 apiece. (Plan to spend an extra $5 to park as well.) For more information, visit the Chinese Lantern Festival website.