Lions, tigers, pandas and more light up Chinese lantern festival in Boca Raton

The animals come alive when the sun goes down and the lights come on at the Chinese Lantern Festival west of Boca Raton, Fla. (Craig Davis/

By Craig Davis,


Never give in to the notion that you’ve seen everything.

As a reminder, on my 64th birthday I received an unexpected visual treat at the Chinese Lantern Festival west of Boca Raton. I’ve never seen the likes of it before.

My mental image was of variations on the traditional red decorative hanging lanterns one sees at Chinese restaurants.

The spectacle at Sunset Cove Amphitheater was a whole different animal. In fact, it was a menagerie of illuminated wild animals from around the world that defied any preconceived notion of “lanterns.”

Considering it was my celebration of “When I’m 64,” it was like “Yellow Submarine” meets the “Jungle Book.” As if I’d dreamed a warped visit to Lion Country Safari.

The sprawling exhibit dubbed “The Wild” not only spanned the great beasts of the continents, it included a Jurassic side trip to the dinosaur empire.

There were also some red hanging lanterns among the 800-some lighted exhibits that are better described as sculptures of satin, rayon, ceramic and glass, shaped by steels wires and brought to life with intricate painted features. The expressiveness of the faces stood out and made the characters riveting.

The festival continues through April 9 at aptly named Sunset Cove Amphitheater, which is as far west as you can go on Glades Roads, past Mission Bay, snug against the Everglades. A sensational sunset beyond the lake bordering the exhibit was a bonus, accented by a smiling moon and Venus gleaming overhead.

The lantern festival is an ancient Chinese tradition that marks the end of the New Year Festival. But even if you’ve seen one, you probably haven’t seen one quite like this.

Certainly worth the $25 price of admission (there is also a show with dancing and Kung Fu fighting included). Look for the Groupon deal and you can save $10.

Red hanging lanterns are an ancient Chinese tradition, shown at the festival in Boca Raton. (Craig Davis/
About craigslegz 108 Articles
Travel is about discovery, and I learn most about a place when I explore it on foot. Craigslegz Travels is about favorite places and people, and advice to aid fellow travelers. My emphasis is on venturing off well-worn paths. - Craig Davis

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