China Lights attracted over 110,000 people from 44 states

Attendance up 5 percent, could return next year

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:12 pm

The China Lights lantern festival attracted about 110,000 visitors– a five percent increase from last year’s 104,000 attendance– to the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners during the five-week event in its second consecutive year.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said attendees came from around Wisconsin and from 44 states and Washington D.C. to see the 10-acre display of 50 illuminated lantern sculptures.

“We promised that China Lights would be back this year bigger and brighter than ever. The overwhelming response to this event exceeded even those high expectations,” Abele said.

Last year’s China Lights festival, an internationally-touring event, was its first appearance in the Midwest. Ralph Garrity, president of Festival Pro LLC, the event’s organizer, is currently negotiating its return for September-October of 2018. 

“While we don’t yet know if China Lights will return for another year, they’ll always be welcome in Milwaukee County Parks,” Abele said.

Sponsored by Tri City National Bank and We Energies, the festival ran from Sept. 22-Oct. 29– one week longer than its original time frame, due to high demand of online and in-person ticket sales. Abele and Festival Pro LLC announced the extension on Oct. 18 as the festival temporarily suspended ticket sales before selling only a limited amount of tickets online.

China Lights also featured a Chinese souvenir and craft market, Asian and Western food and beverage offerings, and live entertainment honoring Asian culture.

According to Milwaukee County, the festival’s most popular lantern displays were the 200-foot dragon; the Porcelain Tower–constructed with 60,000 porcelain bowls, bottles, cups, plates, and spoons; the Love Gallery archway; and Graceful Swans. 

“With China Lights at Boerner Botanical Gardens, we have an exhibit that truly resonates with visitors of all ages,” Garrity said.

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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