The China Lights festival will kick off its month-long run on Friday with 45 new illuminated lantern displays on the grounds of the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners.
The popular lantern festival is returning for its third year after last year’s event drew more than 110,000 visitors. The festival runs Sept. 21-Oct. 21, Tuesday through Sunday, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Whitnall Park, 9400 Boerner Drive in Hales Corners. Organizers opened the 9-acre gardens Wednesday evening for a preview of the festival.
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Visitors can expect new displays related to this year's theme, "Panda Mania,” including a large panda sculpture covered in ping pong balls.
“All new displays, everything is brand new,” said Shirley Walczak, Boerner director. “We have a whole alley of pandas. Plus, we have we have a ping pong panda, which is the first in the world to be put up.”
Organizers expect attendance this year to be on track with last year’s event, which was extended by an extra week due to high ticket demand.
“Sales have been going strong so far,” she said. “We hope to do the same as last year, if not succeed it. From early ticket sales, I think we’re going to be right on target. People have really adopted this. They really have embraced this event.”
Tri City National Bank has returned as the presenting sponsor of the event. We Energies is also a returning main sponsor.
Tickets are available for purchase through the China Lights website. They are also available at the Boerner box office, Milwaukee County Parks office at 9840 Watertown Plank Road, Mitchell Park Domes and Milwaukee County golf courses.