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Massive, Nine Ton Dragon Statue Debuts at NC Chinese Lantern Festival

Source: Travel & Leisure

If you missed the fireworks on New Years Eve you can ring in 2024 with the dazzling NC Chinese Lantern festival in Cary, featuring 40 new handcrafted lantern displays and a 21 foot tall dragon.

The 18,000-pound dragon installation is longer than three school buses, according to Travel + Leisure, and required a 15-person crew for transport and installation. The festival is being curated by Tianyu Arts & Culture, a Chinese company based in the “lantern capital” of Zigon that has been running lantern displays and exhibitions for 9 years and millions of visitors. Over 25 Chinese artisans and performers have been working since early November to bring the display to the Booth Amphitheatre in Cary for the eighth consecutive year.

“Cary’s signature festival of light returns with new lanterns, performances, and unique experiences,” said William Lewis, Cary’s Cultural Arts Manager in a public statement. “Last year’s festival drew guests from all 100 counties in North Carolina, plus visitors from 50 U.S. states and territories. Cary and Koka Booth Amphitheatre are proud to host this treasured destination event.” 

Chinese lanterns can be traced back 2,000 years to the Han dynasty in 220 A.D and have become a rich facet of Chinese art, history, and culture. The earliest lanterns were floating constructions of silk or paper stretched over wood, or straw paired with a lit candle to create a miniature hot air balloon. Decorations on the lanterns ranged from wishes and riddles to advertisements for local businesses. The tradition was spread by buddhist monks and large public celebrations during the Tang Dynasty from 619-907 A.D. The tradition continues in modern China with a lantern festival marking the end of New Year Celebrations on the 15th day of the Chinese calendar. 

The NC Chinese Lantern Festival at Booth Amphitheatre runs daily until January 14th from 6 to 10PM. Tickets are available online at the Booth Amphitheatre Website or via phone at (919) 462-2025.

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