Lanterns in the Garden is an event in Vancouver’s Chinatown that features lantern art displays at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden around Chinese New Year.
Lanterns in the Garden 2018
Lanterns in the Garden is a festival featuring the lantern artwork of a famous Chinese artist in February and early March. It’s an exceptional event and highly recommended (especially if you like lanterns and Chinese culture and gardens).
Note: There will be no Lanterns in the Garden event in 2019, and likely not in 2020 as well.
When and Where in 2018
Celebrating its second year in Vancouver, in 2018 Lanterns in the Garden took place at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden on the evenings of February 16th to 17th, February 23rd to 25th and March 2nd to 4th. That means every Friday, Saturday and Sunday on those three weekends except for the first Sunday, February 18th, which was when the Year of the Dog Temple Fair takes place instead.
When it’s running, hours of operation for the festival are from 5 to 10 pm.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is located at 578 Carrall Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
Admission to Lanterns in the Garden in 2018 cost $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and children (ages 6 to 15), $45 for families (including 2 adults and up to 3 children) and free for little folk (under 6 years of age).
What to Expect
At the Lanterns in the Garden event expect to see eight or so beautiful lantern displays of art, traditional Oriental lanterns throughout the gardens, performers singing, cultural exhibits and a couple of food vendors. There are also craft activities for children and people in costume walking around.
The Lantern Artwork
Each year the event has a theme. In 2018 it was fairy tales. As a result, the main lantern displays resembled characters from traditional Chinese tales and legends. Characters included the God of Fortune (Cai Shen), the Matchmaker God (Yue Lao) and scenes from the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver story and the Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea.
At the entrance to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in 2018 there was a lantern display featuring a couple of dogs, which makes sense as 2018 marked the Year of the Dog. Also, in the courtyard, was a Beaver and Panda piece of lantern artwork symbolising the friendship between Canada and China. Of course, in the garden by one of the ponds, there was also a traditional Chinese dragon.
Live entertainment took place throughout the evening on each night of the festival in 2018. In one room there was a musician playing a traditional Chinese string instrument, and in another room a series of performers dancing and singing Chinese opera. Also interesting is the tea ceremony exhibit.
Food is available for purchase from a small number of vendors at the event when the festival takes place. Refreshments include bags of roasted chestnuts, tea with a macaroon biscuit, fries with an Oriental sauce and a few other Asian treats.
One food item we tried was a kind of white, chewy, gummy ball with peanut powder sprinkled on top. It was delicious! The roasted chestnuts were also pretty tasty.
There are several ways to win prizes at the Lanterns in the Garden event. One exhibit at the edge of the garden, for example, featured riddles on pieces of paper hanging from above. If you knew the answer to one of the riddles you could take down the paper and, assuming you had the correct answer, trade it in for a small prize.
Below are three other ways to win prizes at the event in 2018. Note: contest rules apply and details may vary.
- The event has a social media contest. The #LIG2018 post with the most likes wins (with the prize provided by the Trump Vancouver Hotel, which closed indefinitely in August 2020).
- Also related to social media, if you follow or like Lanterns in the Garden on Facebook or Instagram, you can get entered in a draw to win a $1000 credit for use on VIA Rail train travel.
- For those that wish, Lanterns in the Garden attendees in 2018 get a free Evo membership plus 60 minutes of complimentary driving time. You don’t have to win this – just be sure to fill out Evo’s online feedback form to get the free signup link. Also, each weekend, the car sharing sponsor of the event awards two additional prizes – a free weekend of Evo driving time (worth $190) and a free Evo membership plus 100 driving minutes (worth $75).
About the Festival
The Lantern Festival is a traditional event that has been taking place in China for over 2000 years on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, which is also known as the Spring Festival. During the festival, in China, families carry paper lanterns and solve riddles attached to lanterns.
Vancouver’s Lanterns in the Garden event celebrates the Chinese tradition of the Lantern Festival. It’s also an opportunity to showcase the artwork of a famous Chinese artist – master craftsman Mr. Chen Baihua.
About the Artist and his Art
The lantern art displays at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden during the event are all the work of one artist, Chen Baihau. He is an artist based in the city of Zhanjiang which is located at the southwestern tip of Guangdong province in China.
Chen Baihau is famous for his Qinhuai-style lanterns and showcases his exhibits around the world. The lanterns on display at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, interestingly, were all made especially for Vancouver’s Lanterns in the Garden event. Each piece is original and designed to fit in the exact room or position in the garden where you see it.
Tips and Advice
Below is some information and advice to help you make the most out of your experience at the Lanterns in the Garden event.
- TIP #1: If you want to meet the artist, go on the first couple of days. Chances are Chen Baihau will be there on the first weekend, but then likely back in China for the rest of the show.
- TIP #2: The best time to see the lanterns, obviously, is at night. They stay up and on display throughout the weekends though, so if you visit Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden during the day you’ll see them “in a different light.”
- TIP #3: If you’re on a tight budget, an especially affordable time to see the lanterns in the day most years is during the Temple Fair at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden on the Sunday after Chinese New Year. On the same day as Vancouver’s Chinese New Year Parade, during the Temple Fair, the garden is open to the public by donation.
- TIP #4: Make sure to get a program brochure when you arrive at the venue. That’s where you’ll find background details about the different lantern displays, rules about the various contests, and other useful and interesting information. Also, if you can, sit down somewhere and read through the lantern descriptions – the background context will add to the experience. Also, if you require glasses to read, don’t forget your glasses! Depending on where you stop to read, you might also need the flashlight on your phone.
- TIP #5: Take your camera (and tripod if you have one). The garden and the lanterns are beautiful.
- TIP #6: The busiest (and so most crowded) times during the festival are usually on days without rain, Saturdays and the weekend of Chinese New Year.
- TIP #7: If you really like the exhibits and want more, go around the garden a second time before you exit. You might see something you missed the first time round.
For more information about the event check out the Lanterns in the Garden website. For more details about the venue, click Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
For other things to do in the Lower Mainland around this time of year, see Vancouver’s February Calendar or click Chinese New Year Activities.