Now through January 2, the Winter Lights Festival glows brightly from Gulf Greyhound Park. This multicultural version of the traditional holiday light show, one of the largest in Houston, combines the Chinese lantern with a nod to Texas, Egypt, the Beatles, Paris and even dinosaurs. The annual 50-day festival started in Houston in 2015, and this year also opens in Dallas at Lone Star Park.
The Winter Lights Festival is the largest lantern festival of its kind in the United States; both events required the combined effort of 140 lantern artists. Manufacturing for both festivals takes two months in Zigong, China, and takes almost two months to complete the installation.
“The artist begins by drawing an outline of the lantern’s frame on the ground,” explained Chelsea Atkinson, public relations and event manager for People Generation. “Then, the artist manipulates and welds metal to the pattern they’ve drawn. Next, the frame is constructed to create a larger-than-life structure. The lantern artist hand lays silk on the frame, using adhesive. Finally, they hand paint the silk. All of the lanterns are created to look as close to authentic as possible.”
With seven massive themed lantern displays, there is ample opportunity to marvel at the intricate floral designs, Chinese Zodiac animals, a gigantic Chinese dragon, a rendition of the Emperor’s Palace, and a nightly acrobat show.
The creative performance includes contortion, the Chinese Sichuan opera ‘Face Changing’ (Bian Lian) which is a dramatic art where performers wear brightly colored masks that they change from one face to another through their act. The acrobats also incorporate Icarian acrobatics, often called human juggling.
At Magical Winter Lights DFW, the Lone Star State section has been modified to include Dallas-Fort Worth staples like Big Tex and the Dallas Pegasus. All of the lanterns at Magical Winter Lights are chosen for a specific reason and months of planning go into each location’s lanterns.
In Houston, each light installation is divided into its own neighborhoods, including: Magical Wonderland, Mysteries of the East, Santa’s Christmas Village, Mystical Forest, Magical Wonderland, Dinosaur Land, the Lone Star State, Landmarks of the World, and a Holiday Market Square. The event also offers food, carnival rides, arts and crafts, character appearances, and photos with Santa.
This multicultural event has something for everyone, ranging from oversized cowboy boots to a human-sized snow globe; the shimmering exhibit of human ingenuity should not be missed.
Gulf Greyhound Park is located in La Marque, off State Highway 45 South, and approx. 35 minutes from downtown Houston. Neighboring cities include League City, Clear Lake, Dickinson, Texas City; it is approx. 20 minutes north of Galveston.
Buy tickets here.