Dragon Lights, the first ever Chinese lantern festival in Knoxville, comes to a close in Chilhowee Park this weekend. The festival, which began March 16, ends April 22. The final festival day starts at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m.
“It’s a great way for us to learn about another culture. In this case, the Chinese culture,” James Hopkins said. “The lights are beautiful, and we love it.”
The Dragon Lights festival fills the park with traditional lights such as the Chinese zodiac animals, Chinese opera characters, jellyfish and more. The gigantic red dragon proves the most eye-catching in the middle of the park. The dragon stretches about 70 feet long and 20 feet high.
Dragon Lights festival features food trucks and showcases performers like plate spinners at 6:30 p.m. and at 8 p.m.
Chinese artisans created each lantern by hand. Lanterns are best viewed after sunset, around 8:13 p.m. for the final day. Tickets are 16 dollars for adults and 10 dollars for children.
“I’m glad Knoxville has this even for us,” Hopkins said. “We are looking forward to next year’s Dragon Lights festival.”
On Sunday, Feb. 2 the Alumni Memorial Building’s Cox Auditorium was filled with many festive decorations to celebrate the year of horse for Chinese New Year.
The festival featured dance, music, martial arts and general events that celebrated East Tennessee’s Chinese culture with a special guest performer acrobat Jui Feng Wei.
A celebration with many traditional dances and modern interpretations of traditional dances filled the night.
The Knoxville Chinese Christian Church performed a group Xinjiang-style dance that emphasized the eyes and side-to-side neck movements. The next dancers were The Spicy Girls from East Tennessee Chinese School motivated by the song about girls in the Hunan Province who eat spicy food.
“I was really interested in seeing the program,” said Laura Brewer, a sponsor of the event. “I thought it would be really cool and we had a good time.”
Part of that good time was the excellent music. “A Thousand Miles Apart” was played by Wenshu Li on the Erhu and Jing Wang on the Guzheng. Yu-Ting Huang played the piano while Zhi Tang sang the romantic song “Dandelion’s Promise.”
The East Tennessee Chinese Association presented a group string performance of a classical New year celebration song “Celebration of a Bountiful Harvest.” Yuen closed the musical performances with a song he wrote himself called “Chinese New Year.”
The night continued with more celebrations of iconic Chinese culture. Martial Art exhibitions with a “Tai Chi Duet” from East Tennessee Tai Chi team, “Wudand Fan” from Taotao Long, and “Horse Stance” from East Tennesse Wushu Team.
Webb Upper School Chinese School performed tongue twisters in Chinese for English speakers and English tongue twisters for Chinese speakers. Lianzhu Zhang wrote out in Chinese Calligraphy the poem “Charm of a Maiden Singer/Memories of the Past at Red Cliff.”
Special guest performer acrobat Jui Feng Wei closed the festival night with his performance Tower of Chairs that rivaled his earlier performance before intermission of jar juggling.
“It is scary, but it is wonderful” Su Wang said on the overall performance of Mr. Wei.
Overall guests were pleased with the performances and how they celebrated the tradition and culture of this holiday.
“This was a good chance to see the performances, the celebration of the Chinese New Year” said Zigag Wang “This is our holiday.”