Milwaukee County Parks
Press Release

China Lights Lantern Festival at Boerner Botanical Gardens Celebrates Final Week

The festival features 40 larger-than-life, brilliantly lit sculptural lantern displays.

By - Nov 3rd, 2016 09:15 am
China Lights Lantern Festival at Boerner Botanical Gardens Celebrates Final Week. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Parks.

China Lights Lantern Festival at Boerner Botanical Gardens Celebrates Final Week. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Parks.

MILWAUKEE (Nov. 3, 2016) — In its final week, the China Lights Lantern Festival at Boerner Botanical Gardens reminds all ticket- holders that their tickets, with the end date of Oct. 30, are good through the Nov. 6 extension.

China Lights: Boerner Brighter Than Ever is a festival featuring 40 larger-than-life, brilliantly lit sculptural lantern displays. It is the first festival of its kind in the Midwest and includes stage performances of folk-culture entertainment, Asian-inspired cuisine, and a bustling marketplace. Show hours are 5:30–10 p.m. through Saturday. (The festival was closed Tuesday due to wet conditions.) Sunday, when Daylight Saving Time is in effect, show hours will be 4:30–10 p.m. Boerner Botanical Gardens is located in Whitnall Park at 9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners, WI.

Friday through Sunday, the first 6,000 visitors will receive free mobile guides. The mobile guide, a $5 value, requires a cell phone for use.

Saturday and Sunday, each event-goer will receive a free fortune cookie upon entering the festival (while supplies last).

Due to overwhelming demand, online ticket sales were suspended last week. On-site advance ticket sales are still available at the Boerner Botanical Gardens Front Desk or Box Office daily, 8:30 a.m. until parking lots are full.

Free shuttle bus service from the Whitnal Park Golf Course paved parking lot to the China Lights entrance will be offered through the end of the festival. Shuttles run every 30 minutes (traffic dependent), from 5:15–10:15 p.m. The lot is located at 6751 S. 92nd St., Franklin, WI 53132.

Photo Gallery

Lantern Displays
Beyond the Welcome Gate, visitors may find that each display is more magical than the last. During the month of September, 28 artisans from China were on-site creating welded metal frames, lighting the frames from within using various types and colors of LED lights, covering the framework in brightly colored fabric, and hand-painting finishing touches. Among the components emerging from the process were glowing flowers, peacocks, cranes, and pandas. Display sizes are as large as the impressive 200-foot-long dragon.

Illumination Parade
Each night at about 6:25 p.m., members of the entertainment staff lead a procession through the zodiac display in the Shrub Mall of the Botanical Gardens. The public is invited to join the fun. The Illumination Parade concludes at the main stage in time for the first performance of the night.

Stage Performances Professional stage performances at 6:30 and 8 p.m. highlight folk-culture. Known for exuding power, acrobats from China will perform, emphasizing controlled strength, skill, and the art of fluid movement. A bonus performance has been added Friday through Sunday at 9 p.m.

Cultural Displays
Cultural displays centered in the Garden House include three replicas of the terra cotta warriors and poster displays about the making of China Lights. In addition, visitors can view a continuous streaming video on China’s history, culture, and tourism.

Food & Beverage
A varied menu is offered. Lighter fare includes Asian Cucumber Salad, Vegetable Egg Roll with Sweet and Sour Sauce, and Peking Duck Spring Roll with Plum Dipping Sauce. Entree options, which include an egg roll and rice, are Mongolian Beef, and Sweet and Sour Chicken. For dessert, the menu offers a new twist on the egg roll—Homemade Apple Pie Egg Roll, served with homemade caramel sauce. Grill items are also available.

Variety is key in the beverage selection as well. Adult beverages feature MillerCoors products and Tsingtao, a lager from China’s largest brewery. Wine is available, including Ozeki Sake, a fresh Japanese sake made from rice. Non-alcoholic beverages offered include bottled citrus green tea, sodas, bottled water, and hot beverages.

China Lights admission tickets include parking and are valid any night through Nov. 6. Admission is $15 for adults (age 18–59) and $10 for seniors (age 60 and up) and children (age 5-17). Children under age 5 are admitted free. The mobile guide, which requires a cell phone for use, is $5.

Close-up paved parking is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Some spaces in this area are designated for people with disabilities who have state-issued disabled parking or disabled Veteran parking license plates, or the state-issued disabled parking identification card.

While the displays are magical at night, they are beautiful during the day. Displays may be viewed unlit during the day for the cost of regular Botanical Gardens admission. Patrons may purchase an evening ticket for that same day by presenting the daily admission wristband and paying an additional $10.

Co-presenters of the event are the Park People of Milwaukee County and Travel Wisconsin. Event sponsors are the We Energies Foundation, Miller Lite, and Tri City National Bank.

For more information, visit

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