Selfie alert. Magical Winter Lights® is returning to the Houston area with the largest festival of its kind in the United States, filling 20 acres with a candy-colored wonderland that comes to life each evening during the holidays.
Visitors take a self-guided, self-paced tour of the eight themed sections — including landmarks of the world, Christmas village, skylines of Houston, mysterious East and dinosaur land — to view the 120 individual lantern sets.
"Almost half will be brand new. They've been restyled, redesigned or are completely brand new," says RoShelle Salinas, spokesperson for Magical Winter Lights.
Organizer People Generation Global Communications brought in artists from Zigong, one of China's historical and cultural cities, to design and build the lanterns, some of which are 60 feet in height. "Our founder Yusi [An] is from this area of China. It’s a southern kingdom in the country and it’s where the lanterns originated. The artists are in that village and city all year and then we bring over a group of people that construct it on site. The craftsmanship has been passed down for generations; you'll see father and son duos working on the lanterns," says Salinas.
Don't miss one of the two Chinese acrobatic shows that are held each night (6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 7 and 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays), as well as aerial folk dancers, photos with the Ice Sisters or Santa Claus, and carnival rides ("We have a new carnival vendor this year").
In the Chinese Arts & Crafts section is a chance to pick up a souvenir (like cute little panda figurines) or some of the products from the artisinal vendors. "One of the real specialties is the sugar design. They create these beautiful figures and drawings out of melted sugar. It dries and it's hardened, but you can eat it, and it comes in all different artistic styles," says Salinas.
Magical Winter Lights won't be returning to Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, where they debuted last year, giving our region just one more reason to brag that Houston is better than Dallas-Fort Worth.
Magical Winter Lights® is scheduled for November 16 through January 6; 5 to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and November 22, December 23-January 1; parking lot of Gulf Greyhound Park; 1000 FM 2004 (entrance is on FM 1764); La Marque; magicalwinterlights.com; free to $76.