Dragon Lights festival exhibits Chinese culture, artistry

LIGHT+UP+THE+NIGHT.+The+Dragon+Lights+festival+illuminates+Soldier+Field+with+its+celebration+of+Chinese+culture.+
Back to Article
Back to Article

Dragon Lights festival exhibits Chinese culture, artistry

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT. The Dragon Lights festival illuminates Soldier Field with its celebration of Chinese culture.

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT. The Dragon Lights festival illuminates Soldier Field with its celebration of Chinese culture.

Emma Trone

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT. The Dragon Lights festival illuminates Soldier Field with its celebration of Chinese culture.

Emma Trone

Emma Trone

LIGHT UP THE NIGHT. The Dragon Lights festival illuminates Soldier Field with its celebration of Chinese culture.

Emma Trone, Sports Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The soaring sounds of traditional flute and guqin, a seven-stringed instrument, float over the crowds, who stroll delightedly through intricate displays of light. Visitors weave through heart-shaped arches, illuminated from within, or stand before a majestic dragon that stands two stories high, as the city skyline glitters in the background and cars rush by on Lake Shore Drive.

The Dragon Lights at Soldier Field is a nightly celebration of Chinese culture, which runs through May 6. While the glowing displays of Chinese folktales and cultural symbols are the main draw, the festival also stages traditional Chinese performance arts and live handicraft demonstrations such as knotting and inner-bottle painting.

The festival opens for visitors daily at 5:30 p.m. and closes at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets are available both at the door and online at dragonlightschicago.com, and cost $20 for adults, and $13 for children ages 4 to 14.

The 39 lantern displays that provide the “lights” at the festival were handcrafted and built by artisans, who traveled to Soldier Field from China to assemble the intricate scenes. Beyond the strikingly prominent twin dragons, which are centrally located and tower above visitors and the other arrangements, other displays depict cultural figures such as the moon goddess Chang-e, China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di, with the famed terracotta warriors and actors from the Peking opera.

With the displays, one feels a sense of old and new aesthetics converging; while the subject matter depicted has ancient roots, the medium of lantern-making feels renewed with the energy of modern Asia’s technological advancements. With the twinkling lights from downtown Chicago as a backdrop, there’s no better place to explore Eastern culture, both old and new, right in your backyard. Catch this colorful celebration of Chinese culture before it closes.