At the end of March, and about a week before I left to go to Korea, David and I made a visit to see a special exhibit at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens called Lantern Asia. It’s been described as “Art by Day, Magic by Night”.  I didn’t see it during the day, so I can’t testify to the “Art by Day, but it is really “Magic by Night”, because the works of art are lit up.  Please excuse the quality of my pictures…they were taken with a phone and while I was trying to balance an umbrella, not the easiest feat..(try squinting, the pictures might look less fuzzy)  These displays are along the drive into the Botanical Gardens. 

Lantern Festivals are an ancient Chinese tradition that started over 2,000 years ago. This exhibit, brought to Norfolk by the Tianyu Arts & Culture of Zigong, China, is spread out throughout the gardens and includes 36 different themes from the countries of China, Japan, Thailand! India, Thailand, Burma and Korea!….just to name a few.  They are made out of silk, steel and other materials and are illuminated from within by LED lights   Forty Chinese artisans started erecting these works of art in January…as it was a massive undertaking.  Several of the displays are over four stories tall, one as long as five school buses lined up end to end, and one made up of more than one MILLION pieces!  These aren’t little lawn ornaments, these are spectacular “lantern” displays!

Once you park it’s time to make sure that you have your walking shoes on and are ready to enter and start your mile long stroll.  After going through the entrance….image

and past the giant tulips (they are taller than me!)…image you can see this, the Dali White Pagoda, off in the distance. Walking across a bridge and under a canopy of lotus flowers, this is your view.IMG_0342

And then you walk closer and notice it’s changing colors…..But it’s not until you get up close and personal do you realize that this display is not made of silk and steel….it is made out of china….you know china…as in dishes….plates, cups, saucers, and spoons….more than a MILLION of them! It’s kind of obvious where the plates are, but the vertical columns that go straight up are stacked cups & saucers. image imageYou should stay and watch this for a little while as the lights on the pagoda change color every few minutes…red, blue, green.

But you do need to “drag” yourself away as there is so much more to see….like this fierce dragon! image He is MASSIVE and is as long as 5 school buses! And breathes a little fire too!image

If dragons aren’t your thing, maybe you prefer things that can be squashed by a dragon, like grasshoppers.image

or maybe you prefer prettier things like walking along a path lined with lotus flowers and butterflies?imageThere was a light rain falling the night we went, which turned out to be a good thing as there was no crowd. (We had bought our tickets in advance and checked the weather report before buying our tickets, but as usual, the weathermen were not correct!  (Hint:  it’s a good idea to buy your tickets online in advance as there are a limited number of tickets per day, and we didn’t go the day we originally wanted to go  because it was sold out!)imageimage

Or maybe eight Swans a-swimming in a pond are more to your liking?  (I really wanted to crop one of the swans out of the picture and say Seven Swans A-Swimming, but evidently the Chinese don’t know that song, so I didn’t.)image

If you’ve always wanted to travel, there are several displays that can make your travel dreams come true.  For instance, if you want to see the sights in Japan without taking a 13+ hour flight, you can visit Mt. Fuji in lights instead.image

If you didn’t make it to the local Cherry Blossom Festival at Redwing Park or didn’t want to fight the traffic to drive to Washington D.C. to take part in the National Cherry Blossom Festival, then check out these cherry blossoms instead.image

If you like more whimsical displays, there are plenty of those too.  Like these cute bees…no worries about getting stung here!


0r this little mushroom village.image

When I first saw this next display, I thought they were bananas and almost started humming the Chiquita banana song….until I realized, nope, those aren’t bananas, but they are MOONS and stars.  Gives new meaning to taking a moonlit stroll!

There are lots more flowers of all types and colors….imageimageimage

….a few fishes…..IMG_0421….plus a flock of flamingos to see….image

…before it’s time to go under the arches and head home.  According to the Chinese zodiac, it’s the year of the monkey, so it’s appropriate that these gates feature monkeys.


As I said earlier, it had rained earlier in the day, poured rain in fact….but during our visit just a light misty sprinkle.   Luckily, the rain left a few strategically placed puddles, which made for a last reflecting view for the night.image