West Miami-Dade

Chinese Lantern Festival offers ‘something people in Miami have never seen’

The 400-feet long dragon is one of the highlights of the Lantern Light Festival. The festival features authentic Chinese handmade lanterns at the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center.
The 400-feet long dragon is one of the highlights of the Lantern Light Festival. The festival features authentic Chinese handmade lanterns at the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center. For the Miami Herald

Spectacular Chinese lanterns are lighting up West Miami-Dade, thanks to the Lantern Light Festival now taking place at the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center until Jan. 8.

Pinnacle Production Group produces the event. Sanjay Syal, president of Pinnacle, says Miami has never witnessed such tradition and art.

“This is something people in Miami have never seen,” he said in a phone interview. “It is a great time to change how people see Christmas lights. It’s a step up of what people have been enjoying for many years.”

The lanterns are firmly on the ground and use LED lighting. The show costs about $2 million to produce, featuring different lantern themes such as animals and sea life, holiday traditions, and Florida’s sun and beach. The lanterns can reach up to 30 feet in height and 150 feet in length. Two of the highlights are a 400-foot-long dragon and a lit up panda.

“We are using enough power to light up four city blocks,” Syal said.

The handcrafted lanterns take about two months to build and are shipped from China.

Yiyi Zhang, from southwest China, flew in from the Asian country to build the production, which travels year-round around the world.

“It’s great to enjoy different countries and cultures,” she said in a phone interview. “Every festival is different. People can feel the nice hand work of China.”

Festivalgoer Eli Mateo was looking forward enjoying family time.

“It’s a lantern show and am expecting the unexpected,” he said.

The festival is laid out on 15 acres of space. The tradition of lantern festivals goes back to thousands of years going back to the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty 25-220. The festival also ends the Chinese New Year period and marks the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar.

“Pictures are what does this justice,” Syal said. “Once you see the pictures, there’s no coming back and you need to see it for yourself.”

The festival, which is later headed to Memphis, also features Chinese acrobats, a train ride, a round of mini-golf, mining area, authentic Chinese food and more. Tickets start at 19.

If you go

▪ What: Lantern Light Festival

▪ When: Open daily from 5 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 8.

▪ Where: 10901 SW 24th St., Miami, Gate 5

▪ How much: Tickets start at $19; season pass $60

▪ For information, visit www.lanternlightfestival.com

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