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Moonlight Forest: A Magical Lantern Art Festival launches at the LA Arboretum

Photo courtesy of the L.A. Arboretum

The Los Angeles County Arboretum is hosting, for the first time, the Moonlight Forest: A Magical Lantern Art Festival. Created by TianYu Arts and Culture, Inc., lanterns are on display throughout the arboretum from Oct. 26 to Jan. 6, 2019.

“What we’re doing is showcasing this art form made contemporary with new materials and new construction methods,” CEO of the L.A. Arboretum, Richard Schulhof said. “When I first saw these lanterns at a festival in Norfolk, ‘I said this is incredibly beautiful, we have to bring this to Southern California.’”

(left) Richard Schulhof, CEO of the LA Arboretum. Photo by Andy Hsiao

There are over 60 sets of larger-then-life lanterns placed on the 127-acre botanical garden. The festival also includes Chinese cultural performances and exhibitions, such as traditional Chinese handicrafts.

“We’re working with people who have deep levels of mastery in creating these art forms and we’re seeing a standard of creativity and quality we’ve never had here before,” Schulhof said. “It’s just amazing. We went through a very exciting creative process with the Tian Yu design team to create this spectacle.”

Peacock Lantern Sculpture. Photo by Andy Hsiao

Ai Luo, the representative of Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc. and Vice President, attended the festival’s launch party. She is responsible for the initial contact in scouting venues and business negotiations as well as overseeing the entire project.

“This is for people who have never seen this kind of lantern festival before. I hope they can truly enjoy this experience, because this kind of art has been part of thousands of years of history in China,” Luo said. “I hope that this can let people fully experience the Chinese culture.”

Journalist Jeremy Hsiao interviewing Vice President of TianYu Arts and Culture, Inc. Ai Luo. Photo by Andy Hsiao

Built around a lake, the exhibits include descriptions of each piece. The lanterns were created during the summer and took three weeks to set up. The venue also features music, food trucks, drink bars, acrobatic performances, dance groups, and “bian lian” face changers.

“My favorite piece is the dragon. It is built on the lake and with the reflection on the water, it looks amazing,” Luo said. “The scale and the entire management with other components of the festival really make it unique.”

Photo courtesy of the L.A. Arboretum

There are three different themes at the festival, including ‘Children’s World’, ‘Magical China’, and ‘Nature’s Treasures.’ These include exotic animals, whimsical fantasy dragons, shimmering flowers, a miniature Imperial Palace, Chinese temple lions, and other incredible creatures all made out of colorful, vibrant lanterns.

“We are taking a rich traditional cultural art-form and bringing it here to the Arboretum and making it available to a larger public,” Schulhof said. “[There is] great animal diversity of the planet represented by these lanterns here at the arboretum. You’ll see really incredible things that you don’t really see outside of China.”

Photo by Andy Hsiao

TianYu has signed a multi-year contract with the L.A. Arboretum, so expect them to return for many years to come. The venue makes this one of the largest festivals that TianYu has ever had out of its 16 past locations all over the world

“The lanterns are magnificent. There’s so many here that are rich and wonderful. We’ve never had anything like this in Southern California,” Schulhof said. “Given the cultural diversity of Southern California and the opportunity to bring people all together around the celebration of a cultural tradition, it just seemed like the perfect fit.”

The festival will be on display each week from Wednesday to Sunday, from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Prices range from $20 to $28.

Visit the L.A. Arboretum’s website for more information.

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