HALES CORNERS –China Lights will return to Boerner Botanical Gardens from Sept. 13 to Oct. 20, and tickets go on sale Thursday, Aug. 8. Organizers said the festival will run one week longer in 2019 “to accommodate more people, more comfortably.”
The theme for 2019 is “Treasures of China,” and organizers said the festival will feature more than 40 handmade, sculptural lantern displays, 95% of them new for 2019. The festival will also celebrate Asian folk-culture with professional entertainment, a marketplace, and a variety of food and beverage selections.
The event runs from 5:30–10 p.m., with a 5 p.m. opening for people who purchase the VIP ticket package. The festival will be closed Mondays.
Guests will be able to walk along a three-quarter-mile route through the Boerner Botanical Gardens. Organizers released a photo of the 25-foot-tall “Temple of Heaven,” which will be located in front of the Education and Visitor Center.
The Great Wall of China will meander through the Rotary Garden, and offer numerous beacon towers for photo ops. The Terra Cotta Warriors will be displayed as in the original archaeological dig site.
According to organizers, the only returning display in 2019 will be the Moon Swings in the interactive area — noting that even the 150-foot-long dragon will be new, and will include two baby dragons! The festival will also feature animated dinosaurs in the interactive area, in a nod to China’s recent recognition by Smithsonian Magazine as “the new epicenter of paleontology.”
Each night at 6:15 p.m., staff will lead a procession through the audience in the Shrub Mall, concluding at the main stage in time for the first performance of the night, featuring professional acrobats and face-changing performers from China, with entertainment varying nightly, and added shows on Fridays through Sundays.
Organizers revealed the following special weekend themes for 2019:
- Sept. 13–15, Opening Weekend, sponsored by Tri City National Bank
- Sept. 20–22, Treasures Weekend, sponsored by Gruber Law Offices
- Sept. 27–29, Asian Cuisine/Chicago Weekend, sponsored by WGN Radio
- Oct. 4–6, Moon Festival Weekend, presented by the Milwaukee Chinese Community Center and
- Oct. 11–13, Cultural Weekend, sponsored by the Reiman Foundation
- Oct 18–20, Closing Weekend, sponsored by We Energies
As far as parking is concerned, organizers said there will be a new Dragon Reserve Lot with paved, reserved parking near the entrance. Tickets can be purchased online only. It’ll also be available on a first-come, first-served basis for those with disabilities, or disabled veterans. First-come, first-served parking will be available at nine lots, and complimentary shuttle service will serve the four outer lots.
Boerner Botanical Gardens is located at 9400 Boerner Drive in Hales Corners.
- Child, age 5-17, $12
- Adult, age 18-59, $20
- Senior, age 60+, $12
- One-visit individual VIP package, $30
- Unlimited-visit individual Season Pass, $50
Fall 2019 will mark the fourth year of the festival in Wisconsin. In 2016, Milwaukee became the first Midwestern city to host this festival. Over the past three years, more than 100,0000 visitors have attended.