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New details on China Lights show returning to Milwaukee County's Boerner Botanical Gardens

The festival will be illuminated with more than 40 sets of handmade lantern sculptures.
China Lights
Posted at 1:07 PM, Aug 11, 2022

HALES CORNER, Wis. — A popular celebration of Chinese culture makes its return.

China Lights lantern festival returns to Milwaukee County after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

“We’re excited to be able to come and see it again,” said Elizabeth Beyer-Schwartz.

Beyer-Schwartz said she’s happy to see County Parks announcing the festival’s return after a two-year hiatus.

She looks forward to bringing her two young children to see China Lights this year.

“Especially being in Wisconsin, I'm trying to get them exposed to diversity,” she said.

One walk throughout the garden, this year’s theme of Alice in Wonderland isn’t hard to miss. China Lights says there will be well over 1,000 lanterns up on display.

“People in Milwaukee really love the show and they come back year after year,” said Huiyuan Liu of China Lights.

China Lights kicked off in Milwaukee County in 2016.

“And we see this lantern festival as a bridge of culture communication between China and the U.S.,” she said.

The festival goes from Sept. 16 through October 30. The goal is to bring thousands of people together to celebrate culture. Nearly 400,000 people have attended China Lights since it began in 2016.

“I think it’s very important that people understand each other. It’s not just Asian culture, Chinese culture. It’s a great opportunity for people to participate and get to know each other,” Liu said.

Special weekend themes include:

• Sept. 16–18, Opening Weekend
• Sept. 23–25, Chicago Weekend
• Sept. 30– Oct. 2, Cultural Weekend
• Oct. 7–9, Milwaukee County Parks Weekend
• Oct. 14–16, Alice in Wonderland Weekend
• Oct 28–30, Closing Weekend

A small discount will also be given to those who donate blood on site.

Tickets are already on sale, available at

Milwaukee was the first county in the Midwest to present a Chinese light festival, Crowley said. They expect around 100,000 visitors each year.

Six parking lots will be available, located near the gardens at 9400 Boerner Dr. in Hales Corners, Wisconsin.

The festival will feature "over 40 larger-than-life themed lanterns, including the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, an Illusion Tunnel, and the Queen of Hearts. At the end of the adventure, visitors will be invited to a tea party for a photo opportunity with all the characters."

"The lanterns, which are displayed around a three-quarter mile walking route through Boerner Botanical Gardens, also include eleven interactive light displays, including a light kaleidoscope, an illuminated ‘drumming tree’ and illuminated swings."

"The festival, presented by Tri City National Bank, will also celebrate Asian folk-culture, with live performances from professional entertainers on the We-Energies stage each night, and a variety of food and beverage selections," according to organizers.

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