H-Town's upcoming holiday season is going to be brighter than ever before thanks to the inaugural Magical Winter Lights festival that will illuminate Sam Houston Race Park with more than 120 massive Chinese lanterns in the form of familiar landmarks and landscapes from around the world.
The winter wonderland will feature seven themed sections — Magical, Europe, America, Asia, Australia, Africa and Dinosaur Land — spread out over 20 acres with the brilliant display running from November 20 through January 10, 2016.
Expect to see artistic, cutting-edge designs powered by LED lighting of the Egyptian pyramids, Taj Mahal, Sydney Opera House, Eiffel Tower and Coliseum in Rome, plus life-size dinosaur lanterns. Some of the structures will tower as high as 150 feet tall.
Houston will be represented via several hometown-themed lanterns, including tributes to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, local sports teams and the city's skyline.
Amusement rides and more
A 200,000 square-foot carnival with amusement rides and games, along with photo ops with Santa and cultural performances by Chinese acrobats, Korean drummers and the like, will offer more fun for the family.
A roster of local food trucks will be on-site dishing out eats and a European Christmas Market will offer holiday shopping.
Seventy artists will construct the lantern sets in just 30 days, an ambitious task even with 80 percent of the structures, made with silk, glass, porcelain, solar paneling, fluorescent lights and low voltage LED lights, completed in Zigong, China, and then shipped to Houston for finishing touches and assembly.
Magical Winter Lights makes its United States debut in Houston courtesy of People Generation Global Communications. The group’s founder and president, Yusi C. An, believes Houston’s culturally diverse population is long overdue for a international festival of this scope, and expects the event to be a big attraction.
“(A similar event in) Atlanta saw 400,000 visitors in 42 days. And it rained 19 of those days. We expect to top that number,” An told CultureMap.
After the event ends, the lanterns will be packed up and stored to be used again, both for the second annual Houston event and for future events in more U.S. cities as the Chinese lantern festival grows and expands into new markets.
Advance general admission tickets ($27 per adult; $16 per child age 4-12; free for children under 4 years) are available online and at 800-211-3381. Discounted general admission tickets ($25 per adult; $14 per child age 4-12) and wristbands for unlimited carnival rides ($25 per person) can be purchased at Walgreens.