Chinese Lantern Festival Adds 30,000+ New Visitors

Cary, NC – When the Chinese Lantern Festival first opened in 2015, the town was not sure what its impact would be. Now, after its second year, the festival has almost gotten 100,000 visitors and was responsible for Koka Booth Amphitheater’s first budget surplus.

Festival Continues to Grow

The final day for the second annual Chinese Lantern Festival in Cary was Sunday, January 15, 2017. Even counting a week of bad weather that closed the event, the festival brought 90,501 visitors to Koka Booth Amphitheater. A significant portion of the visitors were not from the Triangle area, with some people coming from as far away as Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada.

When the Chinese Lantern Festival first opened in Cary, more than 52,000 people went to the event. This turnout, combined with a record five sold-out concerts that same year, resulted in $260,000 more in revenue than was projected for Koka Booth Amphitheater and their first budget surplus since opening in 2001.

In the Chinese Lantern Festival, the lanterns and displays were all assembled on-site, with cooperation between the Town of Cary and Tianyu Arts and Culture, Inc. These included displays tailored specifically for the venue. There was also the signature Chinese Dragon, which was 200 feet long. All totaled, the event used 15,000 LED lights.

“Even with challenging weather toward the end, families from across the region were able to experience first-hand the beauty of Chinese culture,” said Luo Ai, executive with Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc.

Other changes to this most recent Chinese Lantern Festival included a rotating set of performances by dancers, acrobats and martial artists all practicing Chinese styles. The performers were all either champions in their disciplines or internationally recognized coaches.

Look at the Numbers

Compared to the first lantern festival in Cary, attendance grew by close to 58 percent. The festival grossed $1,160,000.

A third of all attendees to the Chinese Lantern Festival – around 30,000 – came during the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

The most people to come on one day was 6,934. That was on opening day, Friday, November 25, 2016. The opening weekend, as well as the closing weekend, both brought in more than 10,000 people.

On New Year’s Eve, the festival also hosted a fireworks display. That day brought out just under 5,000 visitors.

“We’ve made a tremendous economic and cultural impact on this region. The festival has become a must-see family attraction, and we’re well on our way to becoming a North Carolina holiday tradition,” said Lyman Collins, Cultural Arts Manager for the Town of Cary.

The Chinese Lantern Festival returns to Koka Booth Amphitheater on Friday, November 24, 2017.

Story by staff reports. Photos by Hal Goodtree.