Feb 092014
Fountain Hills Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival
About Chinese Lantern Festivals and the inaugural Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival in Fountain Hills, Arizona

Today marks the last day of 10-day Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival in Fountain Hills, Arizona. This is the first year for the event, the start of which coincided with Chinese New Year.

The Lantern Festival is a traditional Chinese festival. It has been celebrated for over 2000 years on the 15th lunar day of the first lunar month. It marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations. In the evening, Chinese lanterns are hung in the streets. People march through the streets carrying the lanterns. Lanterns are lit in temples.

Riddles are part of traditional Chinese lantern festivals. Lantern owners write riddles on pieces of paper and attach them to their lanterns. Visitors with solutions to the riddles take the riddle to the owners and receive gifts. Rice dumplings, a glutinous rice stuffed with sweet filing, are eaten. During the day, performances may include lion dancers, drummers, stilt walkers, and dragon lantern dancers.

Fountain Hills Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival

The Fountain Hills Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival was located in Fountain Park, a recreation area in the town centre built around a 29 acre effluent lake.



Chinese Lantern Festival

Walls of Fountains Hills Chinese Lantern & Fold Festival against a desert mountain background

Fountain Hills Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival
The Fountain Hills Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival featured dozens of silk displays, made in China and reassembled in Fountain Hills over a period of several days by more than 70 artisans and workers. 


Double Elephants

Double Elephants is a traditional Chinese lantern group meaning good luck or happy year

Fountain Hills Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival

Chinese lanterns can be made from a variety of materials. The frame may be of wood, bamboo, steel wire, or rattan; the shades of paper, silk, or nylon. Traditionally the source of light inside the lantern was a candle. Today, it is more likely to be a bulb.

The waterproof lanterns at the Fountain Hills festival, made to radiate light at night, started to light up at dusk, around six. The lanterns are lit with bulbs, not fire.

Fountain Hills Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival
tai chi at Fountain Hills Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival

I attended the festival as part of a group from the Taoist Tai Chi Society doing tai chi demonstrations. Other performances and demonstrations at the festival included lion dancing, Kung Fu, and puppets.



Eight Immortals

The Eight Immortals is a lamp group based on a traditional Chinese mythology story.
Each of the eight immortals has a special ability or power.


I attended the festival late in the afternoon on a cool, dreary, overcast weekday. Groups were sparse. Perhaps later evening and weekends drew more crowds. The festival is described as an inaugural event, implying it will become a yearly event. I don’t know what the fate of the festival will be if overall attendance rates are low.

Chinese lanterns are symbols of enlightenment and blessing. The lanterns are typically red with gold trim. In Chinese culture red symbolizes good fortune and joy. Gold symbolizes wealth. Lantern festivals send blessings of harmony, order, and unity for the rest of the year, and symbolize the wish for a brighter future.

Have you been to a lantern festival?

Fountain Hills Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival

  6 Responses to “Fountain Hills Chinese Lantern & Folk Festival”

  1. I’ve never been to a lantern festival. This is something I would love to see.

  2. We were in Singapore right after the Chinese Lunar New Year and the lanterns, looking exactly like those in your photos, were still being displayed. Is there a significant Chinese community in Arizona? I come from Philadelphia where the Chinese Lunar New Year is celebrated in the long established Chinese community.

    • I don’t know much about the Chinese community in Arizona. According to information I found online, it is less than 2% of the population. There is no Chinatown area, although I’ve read that one existed in Phoenix from the 1870s until the 1940s, when the population scattered throughout the city.

  3. For their first year, it looks like they did a great job!

  4. Wow, love the colors and designs! Thanks for sharing.

  5. No, I haven’t been to a lantern festival, but would love to sometime. I really like the desert backdrop for the festival — makes for beautiful photos.

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