The Festivities Continue at Vancouver’s Chinese Lantern Festival


Entrance arches at Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival—C.Helbig

January can be a bit of a letdown after the merriment of Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s celebrations. A few nights ago, I was thrilled to get another festive jolt at the Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival.  Lantern displays featuring everything from giant dragons to smiling trees light up the night sky at the Pacific National Coliseum (PNE) complex. The holidays have come and gone for many of us, but this festive event runs through January 21. The bonus: no holiday traffic, parking issues and crowds to contend with.

This is the first year the event has been staged in Vancouver. It’s produced by a Chinese company and is the largest of its kind in Canada—fitting for a city with such a large and vibrant Chinese community. Chinese lantern festivals have been around for over 2000 years. Traditionally celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, the Lantern Festival  marks the end of the Chinese New Year Spring Festival period (Friday, March 22 in 2018). We’re celebrating a bit early in Vancouver!


This display of smiling trees near the entrance of the exhibit set the tone for me—a joyful experience filled with Oohs and Aahs.  There wasn’t much background information about the displays and I am perplexed how they’ve been able to stand up to the rain, wind, snow…Perhaps the fabric that covers the wire frames isn’t as delicate as it looks.

IMG_3399 The dragon is the largest display—an incredible 60 m (197 ft) long.


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I think this temple display was my favourite. It’s a life-size porcelain pagoda made from 100,000 dishes and spoons, and crowned with lanterns. If you scroll through the photos you can see that it changes colours every few seconds. Stunning!



The pagoda is surrounded by colourful displays with intricate patterns, like the graceful swans and imposing guard.


And of course, a crowd favourite, the cute pandas.


I was really taken by this beautiful elephant display. The elegance and simple colour scheme stand out among the other scenes that have more patterns and colours.


You have to get up close to this display to see that the dragon is decorated with hundreds of tiny glass bottles filled with coloured water. Each bottle is only about an inch tall.


Several displays depict Chinese stories with important figures, like this one of Confucius and his disciples.


And there’s an impressive nod to western and popular modern culture with a giant Santa lantern.


Some look Disneyesque, like this fun, bright underwater display with jellyfish and Nemo-looking characters.


In contrast, there’s an exquisite traditional-looking fish scene that represents wealth and prosperity in the new year.



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I’m a big fan of the simple, traditional Chinese lanterns and they are hanging everywhere, in the trees and adorning the ceilings of passageways.

I was totally impressed by the beauty and creativity of the lanterns as well as the size of the overall exhibit. I was astounded to learn that the Vancouver exhibit is considered small by Chinese standards. One of these days I’ll have to check this out.

Just wandering through the grounds would have completely satisfied me, but included in admission is also a 30-minute show featuring Chinese dancers, jugglers, acrobats and musicians. It was entertaining, but I’d had it with photo taking. Like everything else, the show is outdoors and there is no covered area. Sitting on a wooden bench with the wind kicking up and bits of cold drizzle starting to fall, my gloves were staying on.

This show is definitely worth visiting if you’re in Vancouver over the next 10 days. Hopefully it will back next year. Dress warmly and bring an umbrella.

Happy New Year!!!


Categories: British Columbia, Canada, Crazy Fun Stuff | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

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28 thoughts on “The Festivities Continue at Vancouver’s Chinese Lantern Festival

  1. dont know that you have so many amazing decorative lanterns there also!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous

    Spectacular show. Your shots are great with the brilliant contrast and colour. Sure would be great to experience it one day. What’s your next festival review?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This festival seems so exceptional and definitely worth attending, Caroline! Is this festival an annual event?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Agness, This was the first time for the festival in Vancouver. I’m not sure about plans for next year, but I really hope they do it again. I’d love to see it again.


  4. That large dragon is really something. Thanks for sharing your pics and taking us out on the cold (ha! I’m sure your sister has shared her opinion of the cold we’re experiencing in these parts!), blustery night.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sheri. Yes Monika has not been amused by the cold weather. Funny, we were sitting next to a man from Calgary on that bench at the Lantern Festival and he was complaining about how awful the damp cold is in Vancouver! Hope it warms up for you soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a festive jolt, post-holiday time! Happy New Year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Those are incredible. That dragon is incredible but the elephants are beautiful too. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Perfect thing to do to brighten up the post-holiday period! I loved so many of these, but my favorites might be the elephants and the pandas. Of course, the dragon is great and … Haha. This is definitely something I would go to. We missed the Zoo Lights here this year but always enjoyed that fun nighttime activity in wintry Chicago. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lexi and Happy New Year! I’m kind of glad we saved it for post-holidays. I was thinking of you the other day when we booked a flight to Argentina (and a little place in El Chalten) in early April. I’ll be re-reading your posts!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yay!! Was it El Puma by chance? And you must go to La Cerveceria – that’s my main recommendation!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Staying at Hosteria Kaulem, tiny little place . We will absolutely go to La Cerveceria. Thanks for the reco. Now I’m praying for clear weather. We have 4 full day there so I’m hoping that at least a day or two cooperate.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. It all looks so pretty and festive. The dragon is amazing. Great pictures Caroline.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A porcelain pagoda! I have never seen the likes of one. How incredible a sight ’tis Caroline 🙂 Certainly a colourful start to the year. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pretty amazing display. I particularly like the more sedate elephants, but also the swans and pandas. Last year we were in Kuala Lumpur for Chinese new year and it was quite an event, but nothing as dramatic display wise as this. Am forwarding to my nephew who lives in Vancouver. Great photos.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I thought you might like the elephants Peta. We were in Bangkok last year during the festivities and it was crazy busy. I would love to go to China and check out what they consider to be a large Lantern Festival (though I don’t know if I could handle the crowds). Hope your nephew goes and enjoys it.


  11. This looks amazing. We are so going!
    Your photos are fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had intended to go over the holidays but I’m kind of glad we waited until now. It was so peaceful and nice to see the displays without hoards of people around. I hope you can find a nice, non-rainy evening. Enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Mike Hohmann

    Beautiful festival displays, Caroline. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 60 m dragon before. I’ve seen dragons with a half dozen people inside, doing traditional dances -usually sponsored by local Kung Fu clubs. The little kids love them. I’ve never seen a display like this, but then Vancouver has a large Chinese community. We haven’t been to Vancouver in a long time. We’re overdue for a visit! Great photos!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mike. I’d never seen a 60m dragon before this either (not even one half that size)! They are really incredible displays and it boggles my mind to think that the lantern festivals in China are much larger. It’s great living in Vancouver with the large Chinese and other Asian population. Hope you get to visit soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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