One of the wonderful things about children is their capacity to be enchanted by all things magical–Santa, Harry Potter, Disney Princesses, etc. As adults, we tend to become jaded and lose the ability to perceive the magic around us. However, last week I had the opportunity to revisit the wonder of childhood when I attended a truly Magical Chinese Lantern Festival at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.
The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden (DSBG), located on 380 acres of rolling hills in Belmont, North Carolina, was established by retired textile executive, Daniel Stowe, in 1999. There is a 50-year master plan for fully developing the property, but the current garden contains an elegant visitors pavilion, an orchid conservatory, acres of lush themed gardens, multiple fountains, an outdoor amphitheater, and The Lost Hollow Children’s Garden.
DSBG is a beautiful destination garden at any time of the year, but with the installation of more than 800 life-size and giant animal lanterns, the garden is transformed into a stunning and colorful wonderland. Traditionally, these lanterns were made of paper or silk and were created for festivals celebrating the end of the Chinese New Year. The Chinese lanterns displayed in the garden were created by artisans in Zigong, China, who construct them using metal frames covered with multi-hued rayon fabric.
Before you actually enter the garden, you pass through a “lantern gate” topped with many different animals. A magnificent fiery phoenix also stands sentry in front of the visitor’s center and gives guests a glimpse of the marvels to come.
As glorious as these introductory lanterns are, nothing prepares you for the amazing sight that greets you when you emerge from the visitor’s center into the garden. You immediately realize that you are “not in Kansas anymore” as you get your first view of an expansive eye-popping underwater scene. The magical ocean floor features fantastical giant jellyfish, (some as tall as 23 feet high) that tower over sparkling coral beds, seaweed, and anemones.
As you stroll further into the garden, you encounter many other animals, both realistic and mythological.
The fountains throughout the garden are illuminated with several different “floating” lantern aquatic scenes.
One of the most amazing displays was an immense, sprawling African migration complete with lions, rhinos, giraffes, and many other species.
There’s also a stunning peacock made from 6500 clear medicine bottles filled with colored liquid and a tiered elephant display made of ceramic plates and teacups.
If you can’t tell, I was so blown away by the magical Chinese lanterns in the garden that I couldn’t decide which dazzling displays to include in this post. I feel like the proverbial kid in a candy store, wanting to show you one of everything. Since I took hundreds of photos, that would be crazy. However, I hope that the pictures I’ve shared with you, have given you a chance to experience a few moments of the magical childhood wonder that the Chinese Lantern Festival brought about in me.
The Chinese Lantern Festival 2017 at The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden runs until October 29th. The DSBG also puts on a gorgeous Holidays At The Garden Christmas lights display that will run November 17th through December 31st, 2017.
If like me you haven’t gotten enough of these incredible masterpieces, you can view additional photos by clicking through the slideshow below and for more information about Chinese Lantern Festivals around the country, check out Lantern Light Festival.
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