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FAQ: Chinese Lantern Festival

What is the Chinese Lantern Festival?
Boasting more than 1,000 illuminated displays, the Chinese Lantern Festival provides a stunning visual exhibition of Chinese art and culture. We call these lanterns but make no mistake-these are not handheld, candlelit lamps. From humble beginnings of silk and paper, the Chinese lantern has evolved into wondrous shapes and sizes. Enter “The Wild,” a world of life-size illuminated panda bears, lions, flamingos and more fauna from the world’s seven continents. Each of the lanterns is made by masters of the craft in Zigong, China’s center of lantern heritage.

It’s AMAZING and the young and young at heart will enjoy every moment! Come walk with us!


What are the dates for the Chinese Lantern Festival?
These beauties are here March 20 through May 19, 2019. The exhibit is open each day for daytime Garden visitors, regular Garden admission or Huntsville Botanical Garden membership applies.

The lanterns light up the night Wednesday – Sunday from 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm.

What are the hours?
The Chinese Lantern Festival is enchanting in the sunlight and magical in the moonlight!

Daytime hours:
March 20, 2019 – May 19, 2019
Monday – Tuesday: 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Wednesday – Saturday: 9:00 am-4:30 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am-4:30 pm

Evening hours:
March 20 – May 19, 2019

Wednesday – Sunday: 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm
(Ticket holders can enter any time between 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm. Once inside, ticket holders are welcome to stay until the event closes.)

How do I purchase tickets?
Daytime tickets may be purchased at the door as regular Garden admission. Huntsville Botanical Garden members are free during the daytime hours.

Evening tickets may be purchased in advance online or at the Garden Admissions Desk during our daytime hours. Pre-purchased tickets are the best value: there are discounts for non-peak nights and they’re cheaper than tickets at the gate (hint, hint).

For each day of the festival, the advanced ticket purchase option closes at 4:00 pm for that same evening. If you have issues with purchasing your ticket(s) online, please send an email to

Do I have to pay an additional parking fee with my ticket?
We park people wherever we can on busy evenings, there’s never a charge for parking. All we ask for is your patience! We are always looking to improve how we bring substantial amounts of vehicles to the Garden, so please allow time for parking and graciousness with the volunteers working to find you a spot. All complainers will be pulled from their vehicle and assigned a volunteer parking lot shift…just kidding…maybe.

Will tickets be sold on-site at the Garden?
You better believe it! Tickets will be available at the gate each festival evening beginning at 5:30 pm and incur an additional $3 charge per ticket. Long lines and wait times may also occur. We strongly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance online.

Daytime admission is always available in the Guest Center.

Can tickets be exchanged for another evening or refunded?
We want you to use your pre-purchased tickets on the night you choose, but we understand that life happens…it happens to all of us. Tickets are non-refundable but can be exchanged for another evening. You must exchange your tickets before, not after your evening has passed. If you need to exchange your tickets PRIOR to your evening, please send an email to

*Please note: If you are exchanging a discounted ticket to a non-discount night, you will be charged for the difference in pricing in order to exchange your tickets.

*Tickets will not be exchanged if the original date has passed.

What do you do in the event of inclement weather?
While we are submitting a request for beautiful weather, we know that we live in the south…weather never behaves in the south…are we right? We also know that some of the evenings won’t be perfect weather, but the Chinese Lantern Festival will be held rain or shine unless the Garden closes for a weather-related emergency (see below for details). Remember, Chinese Lantern Festival tickets are non-refundable, but you can exchange prior to your evening (see question #7). Anyone seen doing a rain dance will be sent home with all kinds of cats and dogs (since you must want it to rain cats and dogs), invasive plants and gum on your shoes…just kidding…maybe.

What is the Garden’s closure policy for The Chinese Lantern Festival?
We would never knowingly put our volunteers, guests, and staff in danger when it comes to our weather in the south…as mentioned above. The Garden team may elect to close the Garden in the event of a weather-related emergency that would prohibit The Chinese Lantern Festival from being held. Any closures will be announced by 3:00 p.m. on the Garden’s website and Facebook page unless circumstances develop later on that warrant a closing after the event opens. Should the Garden close, ticket holders may choose to exchange* the ticket for a different night (based on availability) by e-mailing

*Please note: If you are exchanging a discounted ticket to a non-discount night, you will be charged for the difference in pricing in order to exchange your tickets.

*Tickets will not be exchanged if the original date has passed.

Do members get in free?
Oooh, we do love our Garden members! Members may view the Chinese Lantern Festival displays as part of their free daily Garden admission during daily Garden hours. Reciprocal memberships will also be honored during daytime Garden hours. (For hours see question #3.)

HBG Members will receive a $5 discount on every evening ticket purchased. This member benefit is not available as a reciprocal member benefit.

How do I apply my membership discount when purchasing my tickets?
To receive their online discount, members must create an account or sign in by clicking one of the links in the upper right-hand corner of the purchasing page. All member discounts will be applied on the next page – the cart/ticket order page.

Can I purchase a membership when I buy my Chinese Lantern Festival tickets?
Yes, you can! If you need assistance or find yourself stumbling about online (like most of us staffers born pre-1990). You can always come by the Admissions Desk in the Guest Center during daytime Garden hours and we will get you signed up, walking out a member with tickets in hand and a smile on your face…like a boss!

Are there any discounts?
Yes. Most Wednesday and Thursday evenings are designated Non-Peak nights and tickets are discounted $3. Please note: All members receive an additional $5 off each ticket purchased (see Question #10).

For daytime and evening Group Tour rates only, contact Jared Keesee at

Hint: buy your tickets early either online or at the Garden during daytime hours. It saves you $, assures you your night, and makes you feel accomplished. Don’t tell anyone else though…this hint is only for you.

How long does it take to walk through the exhibit?
Are you a tortoise or a hare? Are you eating before you get here or going to get food at one of our food trucks? So many questions! You may stay for the entire evening if you like, but typically most guests will take 1.5 to 2 hours to see the lanterns, buy a glass balloon, drink an adult beverage and catch a kung fu show.

*Note that the Chinese Lantern path is 1 mile long.

What if I have a stroller or wheelchair? Is it handicapped accessible?
Yes, our paths are a mix of compacted gravel and paved areas. There are one or two hills, but strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs venture these paths on a daily basis.

*Note that the Chinese Lantern path is 1 mile long.

Is this a walking or driving exhibit?
This exhibit is designed for pedestrian traffic only, but that does include wheels such as wagons, strollers, and wheelchairs. Extra points if your “wheels” light up!

*Note that the Chinese Lantern path is 1 mile long.

Do you have food or beverages available?
What? But of course…this is the South: we eat and we eat often and everywhere we go! There will be grub and goodies available at food trucks (number of food trucks vary each evening). Refreshments (including adult bevs) will also be available here at the Garden.

Note: No outside food, beverages or alcohol are allowed on the property.

Are pets welcome?
Gosh, we do love those furry little BFFs but, due to safety concerns, pets are not allowed at the Chinese Lantern Festival. (Service animals are always permitted as allowed by Alabama State Law only.)

Can I drop off / pick up a ticketed guest?
The Garden does not allow anyone under age 16 on the property without an accompanying adult. You may drop off or pick up guests age 16 and over who already have a ticket for the night’s event. Please note: if you are using a transportation service, such as a taxi, Uber, or Lyft, your ride must pick you up no later than 9 pm before the entrance gates close.

Are there volunteer opportunities available at the Chinese Lantern Festival?
YES and we reward with free tickets!!! The Garden is looking for volunteers to help with a variety of indoor and outdoor jobs, including parking, greeting, and directing visitors. You must be 16 or older to volunteer. Orientations will be offered. Sign up here.

For more information about volunteering, please contact or 256-830-4447, ext. 238.
Make sure to ask how you can earn FREE tickets by volunteering!
Did we mention the free tickets?

Can we take photos?
Of course! We encourage it, but please be mindful of our Garden plantings and the delicate nature of the lanterns. Please do not climb on or place children on trees, plantings, structures, or lanterns. We fear that we would then need to keep them throughout the rest of the festival as part of the exhibit. This Garden truly is a labor of love and staff and volunteers work very hard to make it a place for all to enjoy day after day. Please leave the Garden as you found it for the next guest to enjoy.

We love being social with you, please tag us on your photos! #hbgmoments #huntsvillebotanicalgarden #chineselanternfestival

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