2015 Magical Winter Lights


Past Event
$16 to $27

Location Info:

Sam Houston Race Park
7575 N. Sam Houston Parkway W.
Houston, TX  77064
The inaugural Magical Winter Lights lantern festival is huge. Like ginormous. There are more than 100 lantern sets (more on that in a minute), a full carnival, a large food court and a busy schedule of live performances. The lantern displays, each a replica of a famous landmark from around the world, are spread over more than nine acres; the carnival over another 200,000 square feet and the dinosaurs dot an immense wooded area. (Oh, did we forget to mention the dinosaurs?)

Some $10 million is being poured into the festival, one of less than ten that will take place in the United States this year. It all seems highly ambitious. “It is,” laughs producer Yusi An of People Generation Global Communications. “I didn’t want to take baby steps. Lantern festivals have to be large scale, otherwise you don’t see the beauty of them. When people hear about a lantern festival, they think of the small lanterns hanging outside Chinese restaurants.”

These aren’t like that. They’re towering constructions, more like oversized movie sets than lamps.

An’s family is from Zigong, China, which is known as the Lantern Town in the South Kingdom. (The city’s also famous for the dinosaur finds uncovered there, hence the dinos in the festival.) She grew up attending the annual festivals. She’s been living in the United States for the last five years. Given Houston’s culturally diverse population and mild winter weather, she decided the city would be perfect for an outdoor Chinese lantern festival festival. “My goal is to bring a new holiday tradition to Houston. I want Houston to enjoy a new kind of light festival.” The Eiffel Tower, Mayan pyramids and Roman Colosseum are among the landmarks seen at the festival. “Of course, we have something especially for Houstonians. We have the Houston Live Stock and Rodeo, the space shuttle and the sports teams. We’re also recreating the [Gerald D. Hines] Waterwall.

“People have started noticing the construction when they drive by. An Indian family stopped by the other day. They saw the Taj Majal being built and they were excited about a festival that would have a part of their culture.”

5 to 10 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 1 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1 to 10 p.m. Sundays. Through January 10, 2016. Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West. For information, visit magicalwinterlights.com. $16 to $27.

ORGANIZER DESCRIPTION: The 2015 Magical Winter Lights will debut in Houston this winter from November 20, 2015 to January 10, 2016 at the Sam Houston Race Park. The 52-day festival will become the largest holiday light festival in Houston, and the largest lantern festival of its kind to ever take place in the U.S.

MWL2015 differentiates itself from other more traditional holiday lighting events by basing its designs from Chinese lanterns and transforming them into larger-than-life remakes of well-known landmarks and landscapes in the world. The festival will feature seven fascinating themed sections including Magical, Europe, America, Asia, Australia, Africa and Dinosaur Land. The America section will also display lantern sets that Houstonians and Texans can easily relate to, including their hometown sports teams, Western stockyards and the Houston skylines.

Times: Monday - Thursday 5:00 PM - 11:00 PM Friday & Saturday 1:00 PM - 11:00 PM Sunday 1:00 PM - 10 PM

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