Explore the History, Technology, and Other Fun Facts About Our Chinese Lantern Festivals

In 2020, we partnered with Zoo New England to launch the first-of-its-kind lantern festival in the New England area: Boston Lights: A Lantern Experience at Franklin Park Zoo, located in Boston, Mass. Originally scheduled for August 21 to October 30, 2020, it was extended for two more weeks due to popular demand. We used our limited staff to set up every one of the 60 lantern groups consisting of roughly 20,000 LED lights that spanned across the Zoo’s 72 acres.

This outdoor experience featured favorites from prior festivals, including the 66-foot-long shark tunnel, the 197-foot-long dragon lantern, and a beautiful butterfly tree. 

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2020 was an unprecedented year for all due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc., worked with venue partners to adapt and create new touchless interactive displays that still maintained — and even enhanced — the festival experience.

Like many in 2020, Tianyu had to innovate and pivot as events were canceled or postponed across the world due to health and safety concerns.

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In 2020, Tianyu was proud to continue working with the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for the third annual Asian Lantern Festival. In this unique year, we worked closely with Cleveland Metroparks Zoo team to design exhibits that met COVID-19 safety guidelines, as well as adjusted our construction process to accommodate the Zoo’s availability.  

For 28 days, we installed our lanterns during business hours behind-the-scenes so that we did not disrupt the Zoo’s daily operation. 

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Historically, the Chinese lantern festival would take place on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (known as the Yuan) – which usually occurs in February in the Gregorian calendar. We honor our deceased ancestors while promoting peace and reconciliation by lighting lanterns as we celebrate the New Year.

As we approach the Chinese New Year on February 12 (marking the year of the Ox in 2021 and lasting through February 26), we wanted to share the origins, craft, and cultural experiences that we traditionally associate with the lantern festival.

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Choosing which larger-than-life Chinese lantern that will illuminate the night during your next festival or special event shouldn’t be the same as choosing a T-shirt or sweater from the department store rack.

Every experience should be unique, and one-of-a-kind experiences make your event stand out from the crowd.

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Mowgli, Baloo, and Shere Khan are just three of the many iconic characters that appear in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.” Popular across the globe, the story inspired our lantern festival at the Antwerp Zoo in Belgium, entitled Jungle Book Light Festival, which attracted thousands of visitors each night.

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Did you know that the Malayan tapir can hide in a river and use its flexible snout like a snorkel? Or that a Greenland shark might be the world’s oldest living vertebrate at up to 512 years old? Many of these awe-inspiring animals are in danger, and by recreating them in colorful and engaging ways.

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Every Tianyu Lantern Festival is unique. You can follow our festivals around the country like you’d follow your favorite band, or visit every baseball stadium, exploring and engaging with the details that make each event so memorable.

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We can’t wait to welcome you back to our festivals when the time is right, but for now you can surround yourself with our colorful virtual backgrounds to enliven your next Zoom meeting or happy hour! Tianyu festivals are filled with light lanterns that come in all shapes and sizes, and provide stunning backgrounds for photographers.

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We are bringing our larger-than-life lantern sculptures to you with lantern art challenges and activities that you can do anywhere — even in the comfort of your home. Just like our Chinese lantern festivals, these lantern art challenges are designed for people of all ages. 

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China has an exceptionally rich culture that dates back thousands of years. As one of the oldest countries in the world, China is known for having one of the highest populations and tourism rates. From a global perspective, people have come to appreciate and endear China as a country known for its timeless traditions.

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Lanterns have been a part of Chinese culture since the Eastern Han Dynasty, and today they are the focal point of festivals that happen all over the world. The frame is made of bamboo, wood, rattan or wire, and the shade is made of paper or silk. Lanterns can be created in any shape or color.

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