Chinese lanterns will glow for four months beginning Nov. 15 at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, illuminating America’s oldest garden at night for the first time in its history.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens has partnered with the Zigong Lantern Group in China to present “Lights of Magnolia: Reflections of a Cultural Exchange.” The lantern festival will feature custom-designed installations of large-scale thematically unified lanterns, a fusion of historic Chinese cultural symbols and images that represent the flora and fauna of Magnolia.
The lantern festival, the first ever at a public garden in North America, places Magnolia in a position to play a prominent role in supporting Charleston’s tourism traffic, Tom Johnson, the garden’s executive director, said. “We are expecting record-breaking attendance for this visually stimulating display of stunning Chinese art that will glow in the night,” he said. “Magnolia is constantly looking for opportunities to enhance the garden experience for our visitors, and I believe we’ve found a unique opportunity with the Zigong Lantern Group.”
Meng Liu, executive director of China-Overseas for China Lantern International, said, “This is a great beginning for Magnolia and the whole of Charleston. We are all excited and confident that this event will get the attention it deserves. Everyone who experience this unique event will remember it forever.” The Zigong Lantern Group, based in Zigong China, is ranked number one internationally and recognized as the industry leader in Chinese lantern festivals around the world.
The company’s hand-made, three-dimensional sculptures will be illuminated at night throughout the gardens from Nov. 15 to March 15. Magnolia will open its gates during the evening to allow guests to view the colorful lantern displays erected over nine acres of Romantic-style gardens.
The lanterns will be placed along a predetermined walking route throughout the historic gardens, Liu said. The designs will be unique and match Magnolia perfectly, she added.
The lanterns will be constructed in China, shipped to Charleston and assembled at Magnolia. Each of the displays will be installed over and around black cypress ponds and lakes. The reflection of the lanterns on the surface of the water will create an optical illusion that will expand their actual size.
Justin Corsa, executive director of North America for China Lantern International, said, “Cultural Chinese lanterns began during the Eastern Han Dynasty of the Chinese Empire from 25 to 220 AD. They were initially used as lamps and were for Buddhist worship. The art of the lantern festival has been innovated over hundreds of years and is now a combination of traditional and modern materials with ancient craftsmanship.”