Bright, colorful light displays are extra cheerful during the short, dark days of winter. Joining an array of local seasonal light shows, there's a new and different player on the scene this year. The Seattle Lantern Light Festival is a new, temporary installation at the fairgrounds in Puyallup that offers glowing lights and a slice of Chinese culture.
Bottom line: The Lantern Light Festival definitely provides a dose of sparkle in the dark of winter, but be warned: It doesn’t come cheap. We went for a recent visit and rounded up these tips on taking the kids if you decide to check out the display.
This display is a touring show of custom-built, three dimensional lanterns in a variety of shapes and themes. The lanterns are hand crafted and represent a Chinese tradition that started over 2,000 years ago. Expect traditional themes as well as over-sized Santas. The showstopper is the dragon.
In addition to the lights, the festival includes a variety of typical carnival-style activities for children such as mini-golf, inflatables, face painting and ride-on “dragons.” Note that all of these activities cost extra on top of your entry tickets. There is also a short acrobatic show included with admission, and many gift items available for purchase.
I visited with my family during last weekend's Seahawks game, which undoubtedly contributed to a smaller crowd. We found it very easy to walk around and it would have been no problem to navigate the grounds with a stroller or wheelchair.
The acrobat show, while just 20 minutes long, was entertaining. My son’s favorite part was watching the unicyclist who, improbably, caught and balanced a series of teacups on her head.
The lanterns were truly lovely, and we enjoyed the festive atmosphere of the event.
We saw everything, including the acrobat show, in an hour, and, in my opinion, the tickets were very expensive for the size of the event and what's included. Exhibit-only regular admission tickets for my husband, our son and me were $74 with online fees. Activities, if we'd done any, would have added cost on top of that.
Those who love the look of lanterns and don't want to miss this chance to see them should go. The lanterns also photograph beautifully so the displays will appeal to those with an interest in photography. My recommendation is to consider going on a Thursday when children's tickets are somewhat discounted (but are only good on a Thursday). Otherwise, there are not many ways to save on the admission fees aside from organizing a group of 20 or more people and qualifying for the group rate.
If you go, I suggest looking over the various activities offered in advance, with your children, and deciding on which you'll do. You may be better off buying individual tickets for attractions at the event vs. buying the the activity package in advance. More on that below.
Finally, do check the weather forecast as this is an outdoor event. Rain will close the inflatables and may cancel the acrobat show. It should be noted that there are no refunds for tickets, although tickets purchased online are good for any night so you could change your mind about when you go. (Note: Discounted kids' tickets purchased for a Thursday are good only on Thursdays).
If you go...
When: The festival is open Thursday–Sunday through Dec. 13, and again Jan. 4–7, 2018. For the period Dec. 14–Jan. 1, the festival is open daily (corresponding with many schools' winter break dates). The festival begins at 5 p.m. and closing times vary, though generally it's 10 or 11 p.m. Check online for holiday hours.
Extras: The kids' activity package can be purchased in advance, online or at the event for a few dollars more. You can also purchase individual activity tickets at the event. Note that not all activities are included in the Children’s Activity Package. Individual activity tickets are $2 each and most activities cost 3–5 tickets.