What you need to know about the China Lights festival in Milwaukee that features an 'Alice in Wonderland' theme in 2022

·3 min read

After two years of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and staffing shortages, the popular China Lights Wisconsin Festival will once again illuminate nights at Boerner Botanical Gardens this fall.

This year's show, "Adventure in Lantern Wonderland," will feature new, hand-painted, LED-illuminated sculptures of the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts and other characters from the "Alice in Wonderland" tale.

The festival will run from Sept. 16 through Oct. 30, with multiple shows every Tuesday through Sunday evening. Boerner Botanical Gardens is located at 9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners, in the northeast corner of Whitnall Park.

"We are so happy that we are able to bring this wonderful show back to the community," said Shirley Walczak, Boerner's gardens director.

While many of the lantern displays are new this year, the 200-foot dragon will still be there to greet you at China Lights display at the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. The popular China Lights festival returns Sept. 16 and runs Tuesdays through Sundays through Oct. 30.
While many of the lantern displays are new this year, the 200-foot dragon will still be there to greet you at China Lights display at the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. The popular China Lights festival returns Sept. 16 and runs Tuesdays through Sundays through Oct. 30.

China Lights Wisconsin will have 'Alice in Wonderland' theme in 2022

In addition to the "Alice in Wonderland"-themed lights, this year's show will feature cultural lights including a 200-foot Chinese dragon — a favorite from previous years.

Visitors will also be able to enjoy Chinese food and performances by Chinese folk dancers, acrobats and a face changer.

"We try to be educational about Chinese people and Chinese history and culture as well as making (the festival) fun for everybody who comes through," Walczak said.

In past years, the show has attracted over 100,000 visitors, not only from the Milwaukee area but all over the country, said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

China Lights has been around in the United States since 2015

This is the fifth year Boerner has collaborated with artists from Tianyu Arts and Culture Inc. of Zigong City in Sichuan, China, to put on the lantern show, which is sponsored by TriCity National Bank.

Since 2015, Tianyu has held over 100 lantern shows throughout the United States, representative Susan Huang said. China Lights Wisconsin will be the first time they've displayed the new "Adventure in Lantern Wonderland" show in the U.S. It has only been displayed once before — in Belgium earlier this year — and will go on tour to over 40 locations worldwide after stopping at Boerner.

People swing on illuminated swings at an expanded interactive play zone at China Lights at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners on Sept. 14. They were at a preview event for China Lights, which opens Sept. 16.
People swing on illuminated swings at an expanded interactive play zone at China Lights at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners on Sept. 14. They were at a preview event for China Lights, which opens Sept. 16.

How to purchase tickets for China Lights in Milwaukee

This year, lantern shows will take place each night of the festival at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Visitors must purchase tickets for a specific time and date, a change from previous years. Walczak said she hopes this will help "space people out more" and protect them from COVID-19 exposure.

Huang recommends people purchase tickets in advance online at chinalights.org.

Adult general admission tickets are $25 on weekends and $22 on weekdays. A limited number of walk-up tickets are available at the box office for $35 each.

Visitors can earn a $3 discount on their ticket by donating blood at any Versiti Blood Center location in the Milwaukee area, Versiti public relations manager Kristin Paltzer said.

To purchase tickets and learn more about the China Lights Wisconsin Festival, visit chinalights.org.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: China Lights in Milwaukee returns to Boerner Botanical Gardens in 2022