Missouri Botanical Garden – Lantern Festival 2012 – Magic by Night

Lantern Festival 2012

All wonderful stories must come to an end and so it is with the last of our trip to the Lantern Festival 2012 at the Missouri Botanical Garden. You can read the first post, Art by Day and also the Information Post about the Botanical Gardens and the Festival if you want to start at the beginning.

Porcelain Dragon at Milles Garden

The sun was starting to fade behind the clouds and we had a half hour before we had to make it to the Cohen Amphitheater where the ChenLong Troupe was setting up, so we wandered through the Japanese Gardens for awhile.

Waterfall in Japanese Garden
Bamboo Fountain
Art at Botanical Garden
Rain Clouds

It started to look like it was going to rain after awhile, the wind was picking up and it was cooling off. Thankfully we have Radars on our Smartphones to always make sure we aren’t caught in a storm! So we were okay.

Strolling in the Garden

Then it was time to make a wish. It was our Anniversary so it was important that we make a wish on the Wishing Tree! The Wishing Tree is a celebrated element of Lantern Festivals in China. You take an oversized coin on a ribbon and toss it into the tree, aiming for the highest branch. Traditional belief is that your wish will come true. After your coin catches in the tree you have to ring a little gong, that was our sons favorite part. We’re pretty sure whatever was supposed to hear the gong had known all about our wish because he banged it quite a few times.

Chinese Wishing Tree
Wishing Tree Coins
Banging the Gong

I actually had so much trouble getting our wish to stick in the tree! I tossed it half a dozen times and it just kept falling out, so finally I just stuck it on the highest branch I could reach. So much for tradition!

Our Anniversary Wish
Our Anniversary Wish

So I can only hope our Anniversary Wish comes true, but just in case the boys also tossed one in there for good measure.

Then it was off to see the ChenLong Troupe. I was so excited! So excited in fact that I did not realize that my camera battery was dying. The next series of photos I did the best with my phone camera, however, I did catch this bit of video of the Chinese art of bian lian, face-changing!

They also had some other amazing performers, like the acrobatic juggler!


And the amazing, extraordinary acrobatic feat of strength.

feat of strength

It was simply phenomenal. I’d post more photos, but I honestly think it would take away from anyone actually going to see it in person. It’s just nothing you can really capture with a camera.

When we left, I had to make a wish at the Wishing Fountain, but I don’t have a picture of this. I wish I did! Because I hit that big ALL OF YOUR WISHES coin which means all my wishes will come true! I have to say, these last few days have been absolutely wonderful!

Turn your pocket change into good luck at the wishing well. Lore suggests that certain wells could grant a spoken wish or grant wisdom in exchange for a sacrifice. Coins also had properties that kept water from tasting sour, so it became “lucky” to throw them in wells. In this Chinese version, the “wishing well” has an ornate red silk backdrop with metal gongs dangling from a suspended bar. Each of the eight small gongs is labeled in Chinese with a different wish—health, wealth, happiness and more. State the wish you desire, throw a coin at the label to sound the gong and your wish will be granted!

It was dark by this point, so of course we had to go see the Lanterns while they were lit. This is the magical part of the night when it is so dark and the paths are lit only by the light of the glowing Lanterns in the park. It was lovely. The Botanical Gardens by day is something beautiful, but at dusk it seems to come alive with a feeling that can only be described in great fantasy novels. You’d almost expect to see faeries, gnomes and dragons fluttering about between the flowers.

The Cherry Blossoms
The Cherry Blossoms
The Nine-Dragon Mural
The Nine-Dragon Mural
The Butterfly Lovers
Butterfly Lovers
The Lotus Flowers
The Lotus Flower
Dragon Embracing the Pillars
Dragon Embracing the Pillars

At this point I decided I wanted to have a glass of wine. Judah pointed out on the walk that the Porcelain Dragons were on fire. They were actually breathing smoke!

dragons breathing smoke

It isn’t a very good photo since they were pretty far away from us, but it was really neat none-the-less! Their eyes were glowing and they were breathing smoke across The Milles Sculpture Garden!

We went back to the Dragon Embracing the Pillars and I grabbed a glass of wine. This is where we ended the night, in the cool air, listening to the blue water flow out between the dragon lanterns.

sipping wine with dragons

My husband kissed me there, on our Anniversary night by the light of the dragon lanterns. It is almost like falling in love all over again, just with a little three year old between us. We were there for four hours and it honestly felt momentary. You can really get lost in time there, away from everything in the city. Outside of the people in the park, it’s quiet. The lights twinkle, the wine is sweet and everything just slips away from you. You really just don’t ever feel like leaving.

The big dragon

The Lantern Festival is exactly as it says: Art by Day, Magic by Night. We saw many other families with young children, some teenagers by themselves or with friends and older couples out for a stroll. It truly has something for everyone

For more information on the Lantern Festival 2012, visit our Information Post or Missouri Botanical Gardens. If you would like to see more pictures of the event, you can visit the Festival Main Page and click through all the different Lanterns and their stories! You can also find fun facts and trivia!

Many thanks to Missouri Botanical Garden for allowing us the chance to visit the park and tell our story. Remember, the Lantern Festival ends on August 19th and the hours (6pm-10pm CST) are now extended to seven nights a week. Make sure to visit if you can!

Cherry Blossoms

I was given tickets to attend the Lantern Festival 2012 and share my story with our readers. Opinions are my own and/or my families and are not influenced by any form of compensation. Photos in this post that are marked are owned by me, unmarked photos are owned and provided by MoBot


  1. Danielle Simmons says:

    Love how colorful and detailed this event is!

  2. I love your photos and I feel like I am right there with you. The wishing tree is by far my favorite.

  3. Elizabeth Pyo says:

    Ah I want to go!!! Love all the photos :)

  4. LOVE MELISSA:) says:

    How fun! I want to go!

  5. Doris Calvert says:

    thanks for sharing thosw wonderful pictures, I have never seen anything like it, gorgeous!!


  1. […] that was when the ‘Magic by Night’ began, when we made our Anniversary Wish at the Wishing Tree, when the Dragons began breathing […]

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