The Spring Lantern Festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year Festivities with the first full moon of the year. On this brightly lit night, thousands of lanterns line the streets, hung from homes and storefronts, hotels and businesses, markets and schools... setting the stage for the processions and colorful performances to end the festivities.
Besides the fantastic lantern displays, this festival is celebrated with an array of carnivals throughout the cities. There is a variety of cultural performances including martial arts and kung fu demonstrations, sometimes floats and parades with clowns, stilt walkers, acrobats... lots of music and drumming and of course the Chinese Lion and Dragon Dances and firecrackers!
Lion Dance Performances during Lantern Carnivals
Right before the holidays, people have already stocked up with lanterns which are found everywhere at the colorful lunar new year flower fairs.
Stand at Lunar New Year Flower Market
At home, children carry their lanterns around the village and families come together to eat sweet rice balls for good fortune and family unity.
Although the red balloon lanterns are the most common and almost a symbol of Chinese culture, the stunning lantern displays nowadays can take all sorts of shapes, colors and forms.
Sometimes the displays pay homage to that particular year Chinese Zodiac animal...
Year of the Horse Lantern Displays in Singapore
... in some cases a "theme" is chosen for that year's displays, i.e. the environment, children, particular animals...
Thematic Lantern Exhibition in Hong Kong "Glittering Peacocks in Full Moon"
At any rate, regardless of the theme for the year, the displays never disappoint!
Lantern Exhibition in Hong Kong"
Check out the Lantern Festival and faboulous displays in Kunming, Yunnan Province:
There are many legends as to the origins of the Lantern Festival and many popular traditional practices have evolved through the years.
One particular celebration in the mountain area of PingXi right outside Taipei is particularly stunning.
Known as the "Festival of the Sky Lanterns", hundreds of lanterns decorated with pictures and calligraphy with "lucky sayings" are lit and released into the sky in unison.
Click on the arrow and take a look at this delightful video:
More Chinese Lantern Festivals
Besides the Spring Lantern Festival that takes place on the 1st full moon of Chinese New Year, there is also the Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival when Lanterns are also front and center during the celebrations.
As the name implies, it takes place during the Autumn and celebrates the culmination of the harvesting season on the 8th Full Moon in the Lunar Calendar.
Chinese Lanterns are more than just decorations. Through the years, they have had different functions and served as
a means of communication.
Red Lanterns have traditionally been a sign of joy and vitality, when placed on the doorways, it
was a way of participating a birth or impending marriage.
A White Lantern, on the other hand, meant a death in the family.
Nowadays, the most common lantern is the Red Balloon which is found all over during main Chinese celebrations
and throughout Chinatowns around the world, it has become a symbol of Chinese Culture.
Red Lanterns make beautiful decorations, give a festive mood to any setting and can be
found easily at your local Chinese goods store or even better you can make your own!
Chinese Lanterns were traditionally made of silk, paper and even glass.
Although the most common is the typical red balloon lantern, nowadays Chinese Lanterns come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
There are lanterns in shapes of boxes, lotus flowers, dragons, butterflies and all sorts of animals.
They range from the small lanterns carried by hand made of paper by school children to gigantic floats shaped in the Chinese Zodiac animal for that year made by teams of craftsmen, like this huge Dragon Lantern made for the Year of
Year of the Dragon Lantern Display
Make Your Own Chinese Paper Lantern
Making your own Chinese paper lantern is easy.
All you need is some paper, scissors and glue, we show you how here.
Lantern Festivals Around the World
It is quite possible to catch one of these wonderful displays which tour around cities all over the world throughout the year. Keep an eye out for them, we have seen them in London and Miami. The gorgeous lantern displays are set up for about 6 weeks, the lanterns are handmade by Chinese artisans and some of the gigantic displays can reach over 30 feet high and 300 feet long.