After seeing the wonderful display of Chinese lanterns at Gilroy Gardens’ Lumination display in 2016 which you can read about here, I knew I was in for the Lantern Light Festival from the first radio ad a couple of weeks ago.
Running through April 29, the festival is located at the Solano County Fairgrounds across the street from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (although not affiliated with Six Flags, presenting a Discovery Kingdom ticket brings a $3 discount to festival admission).
That’s a pretty big dragon, no doubt, but I’ll bet it looks even better after dark. So while we wait for that, let’s take a look at the festival’s activity center.
This area is primarily of interest to the younger attendees (or parents that need their little monsters to burn off some energy). There are some big inflatables, including the Forbidden City Maze. There are also dragon rides. Well, maybe they’re more of a dragon sit since while the animatronic beasts twist and bellow, they don’t actually go anywhere. And for those needing a gemstone to make some jewelry utilizing that gold panned at Knott’s Berry Farm, emerald mining is also offered.
Gotta have merch, ne c’est pas? In this case it is created by artists on site, and, to be frank (Frank’s cool, he won’t mind), it is insulting to these fine people to refer to these creations as merch; I chastise myself. It is certainly beyond the abilities of your humble narrator to paint the inside of small glass bottles, paint a landscape with the edge of my hand or make anything with an embroidery needle other than a bleeding finger (should one not find handcrafted objects created by the artist selling them appealing, the exact opposite experience is offered in a gift tent at the festival exit).
For those requiring a bit more action, there is a stage featuring several performances by highly skilled Chinese acrobats. Whether at the Epcot France pavilion or the county fairgrounds, gymnastics on a stack of chairs doesn’t look easy.
This trio brought a completely different concept for a hoop-dee-do.
Completely new to me, though, was the face changer. Elaborately robed, she strode onto the stage snapping open her fan and striking poses. At one point she turned around for 5-10 seconds, and upon spinning back towards the bleachers, was sporting a completely different piece of painted silk covering her face.
Well, sure, who can’t switch a mask in that time? Well friends and neighbors, we were being hustled, big time. This was demonstrated when she came down to the people, approaching someone, shaking hands while directly facing them. Then, with an almost imperceptible head twitch, the face, well, changed. Instantly! Logic suggests that either one silk moved away, or another moved into place, but after observing it happen several times, I haven’t got a clue as to how it’s accomplished.
As the sun was out if sight, and darkness was descending, it was time to stroll past the mini golf fairways that were not exactly Pebble Beach jr, and, in fact, could probably be purchased cheap at the Toys R Us clearance sale, but keeps the kids occupied, to the lantern grounds. Seriously, though, the preceding sentence was much more challenging than the mini golf.
Light and color punctuated the grounds with such traditional depictions as pandas, peacocks, porcelain and dinosaurs frolicking beside the Golden Gate Bridge.
I’m sensing that this may not be the exposure to another culture that was evident in Lumination (there are Zodiac representations, but nothing noting the Year of the Dog), and the details in the creations were not as elaborate as those in Gilroy. But it’s hard to not be impressed by a 400 foot long dragon constructed from an illuminated, fabric covered wire frame, and the whole point is to spend an evening having a good time. So let’s just wander and admire the castle, zebras, space aliens and what appears to be some sort of salute to alcoholism.
Hopefully everyone was watching their steps and avoiding to area puddles.
Off to the Coasters!
OK, stand down, no need to get too critical. Sure, there were blue skies in my daytime photos, but that day had been all rain until late afternoon. My plans to hit a couple of coasters were dashed due to Discovery Kingdom’s early closure. This seems odd, perhaps, but apparently isn’t all that unusual for Six Flags as I’ve encountered it at Magic Mountain as well. They have begun construction on the Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster, and while the work is only foundational, I was able to slip my phone between fence gaps without dropping it in the mud and get the following images.
The Lantern Light Festival continues Thursday-Sunday in Vallejo through April 29. Discounts are available for seniors and active military, or for everyone on Thursdays, plus there are children’s packages that include the various activities, and this may all be easier on the festival website.
Unless there’s another rain-out, California’s Great America is opening for 2018 with a birthday party for a 25 year old roller coaster, and we’ll be there to take it in on the next Day by The Bay.