LANTERNS! Festival returns to Wildwood with new worlds to explore


Editor’s note: The event featured in this article occurred in 2017, but we hear that this year’s will be the best yet. Find it on our events page.

The winter season’s most illuminating festival returns to Wildwood Park for the Arts this year from February 10 to 12 with three more evenings to shake off the chill and explore different cultures from all over the globe. LANTERNS! is based on the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the first full moon of the Chinese New Year (this year, the Chinese New Year falls on January 28th, and the full moon on February 11) and incorporates many elements of the celebrations held in China and neighboring countries.

Wildwood’s version is visually stunning and a sensory wonderland, especially for little ones who might not have experienced the sights or sounds of other cultures before. The entire park provides the backdrop, with indoor scenes in the Cabe Festival Theatre and the arboretum’s pathways lined with thousands of luminaries guiding the way among the seven “countries”—cultural vistas with activities, food and entertainment.

This year’s vistas include, of course, China, along with Canada, the Caribbean, France, the UK, the Wild West and the Moon. After you’re done sampling international foods and entertainment, don’t forget to pick up a wishing luminary to release upon the waters of Swan Lake. This is a special delight for children in particular; for parents, it’s a moment of zen to stand back and watch the many tiny, colorful lights drift off into the darkness of the lake.


Advance tickets to the festival may be purchased online at the rate of $10 for adults, $5 for children; after noon on each day of the festival, admission prices will rise to $12 for adults and $7 for children. These are also the prices for admission at the gate (and children under 5 are free). Once inside, only WILDBucks may be used as currency, and they can be purchased for $1 each at stations throughout the park. (Unused WILDBucks are not refundable, but they may be used again in another year.) Parking is available along Denny Road, and Wildwood provides a shuttle to the park. And though Wildwood is typically pet friendly, please leave furbabies at home for this event.