Late last month, nearly a dozen artists made the 8,000-mile journey from Zigong in China’s Sichuan Province to Gaston County. They traded Southeast Asia’s humid 92-degree weather for ours, saved a day in their travels and got down to building what will be Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden’s largest exhibition to date.
On Sept. 7, the Garden will open the Chinese Lantern Festival, produced by Hanart Culture, an international touring exhibit that the Garden is turning into an exploration of Asian culture. During the eight-week event, ending Oct. 29, the Garden invites guests to explore dozens of animals of the world in vignettes created from hand-made Chinese lanterns.
The artists may call these “lanterns,” but make no mistake – these are not hand-held, candle-lit lamps. From humble beginnings of silk and paper, the Chinese lantern has evolved into the wondrous shapes and sizes. The Hanart Culture Chinese Lantern Festival has made its way from Dallas, TX.; Calgary, Canada; Vienna, Va., Boca Raton, Fla. and now to our Gardens.
The lanterns produced by Hanart Culture, create an amazing display themed of “The Wild.” Guests greatly enjoy seeing a world of life-size (sometimes larger than life) illuminated panda bears, lions, flamingoes, and more fauna from the world’s seven continents.
Each silk and fabric lantern is made by masters of the craft in Zigong, China’s center of lantern heritage. Others are made of small glass medicine bottles filled with colored liquid. Arranged in the shape of dragons, peacocks, and giant pearls, the lanterns glimmer like crystal rainbows. Other displays are made from plates, cups and saucers arranged in the shape of playful elephants.
“The theme travels from one city to the next, but we are able to create a unique display for each venue based on its landscape,” said George Zhao, principal of Hanart Culture. “Our team works for weeks creating and lighting all our marvelous vignettes.”
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 lanterns—most created from steel frames and fabric and lit from within with LED lights—will fill more than 12 acres.
Living arts further enhance the Chinese Lantern Festival as a group of artists arrives in Belmont just prior to the exhibition’s opening. Garden guests will marvel at Kung Fu shows, savor Asian food and browse the marketplace that features authentic Chinese folk art and crafts. Shadow play, a tradition in China for more than 1,000 years, will also be presented nightly for the great enjoyment of children.
All this is surrounded by the lush Garden featuring an all-new Asian-inspired display that the Garden’s horticulture team installed this spring, and will be in place throughout the year. Japanese maples, bamboo, grasses, iris, ferns and more are pulled together to develop the display that also features other traditional Asian elements such as rock and raked sand. A Bonsai display, presented in partnership with the Bonsai Society of the Carolinas, provides yet another elegant example of Asian culture.
Throughout autumn, the Garden will offer continuing education classes for adults, programs for schools and home schools, guided tours for groups and much more. On Wednesday, Oct. 4 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. the Garden will hold the Mid-Autumn Festival, a traditional Asian event that celebrates the fall moon. Visitors can enjoy family-friendly activities and sample a traditional moon cake. Mid-Autumn Festival is free with festival admission.
Want to go?
The Chinese Lantern Festival will be held Wednesday through Sunday, from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, 6500 South New Hope Road, Belmont. Tickets are now available at www.DSBG.org. Visitors can save by purchasing tickets online in advance where tickets are $21.95 per adult, $19.95 per senior 60+, $14.95 per child ages 2 through 12, and free for children under the age of two. If tickets are not sold out for an evening, tickets will also be available at the door for $24.95 per adult, $21.95 per senior 60+, $15.95 per child ages 2 through 12, and free for children under the age of two. Garden members receive a 30% discount on tickets including up to four guests. Please note that the Garden will remain open daily for general admission from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with daytime entry ending at 4 p.m.
The Chinese Lantern Festival is a production of Hanart Culture.
The exhibition is sponsored by Duke Energy, WSOC-TV and K104.7.
For more information call 704-825-4490 or visit www.DSBG.org