Decorative lanterns hold a special place in Chinese culture.
The art form goes back more than a thousand years. They represent hope for good fortune and prosperity. They symbolize happiness.
“Lanterns represent the hopes we have for the coming year,” said Yi Zhou, UNC-Chapel Hill professor of Asian Studies. “And they’re part of our New Year’s celebration.”
Chinese lanterns will be celebrated during the next several weeks in Cary as the town hosts the N.C. Chinese Lantern Festival at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre for the fourth straight year.
Miao Zhang of Tianyu Arts & Culture, the company putting on the festival, said all the lanterns are new for this year’s festival. Pandas, koi fish, peacocks, and pagodas, among other lantern types are making their debuts in Cary. The highlight is a new 200-foot dragon that will take its customary place on Symphony Lake, he said.
Cary Cultural Arts Manager Lyman Collins said having a refreshed lineup of lanterns will give festivalgoers a different experience when it opens Nov. 23.
“It may be the fourth year for the festival, but it will be different from the first three,” he said. “It’s good they’re changing it up and not bringing back the same lanterns from year to year.”