Landmarks and lanterns

There’s a chance that your freeway commute will be a little brighter this winter. Global Winter Wonderland opens at Cal Expo (1600 Exposition Boulevard) on Saturday, November 22 and runs through January 4, 2015. According to its organizers, it’s the largest lantern festival outside of China. One thing’s for sure, it boasts 70 eco-friendly lantern installations—some up to 50 feet tall—which are going to at least cause some rubbernecking drivers on the Capital City Freeway. This is the fourth year of the event, owned and produced by the Bay Area-based International Culture Exchange Group, Inc. Its first two years, it was held in Santa Clara, Calif., and in its third, Atlanta, Ga.

Global Winter Wonderland’s lanterns are essentially a gigantic art installation. Made up of millions of LEDs, 100 tons of steel and 200,000 feet of silk, the lanterns are placed in different galleries of sorts: a Global Village (with lanterns shaped like global landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal and the Statue of Liberty), Holiday Fun (mostly Christmas-themed stuff), a Dinosaur Maze and an Enchanted Forest.

The event also features 30 carnival rides, parades, photos with Santa, Chinese acrobats, gift vendors, international food and local and Bay Area bands. Some days—such as African American Day (November 30), Asian Pacific Islander Day (December 14) and Slavic Day (December 21)—will be culturally themed. In short, it basically sounds like a cross between the State Fair, Disneyland, and the Chinese Lantern Festival. Hours vary, and single day tickets range from $12-$16. Head to for more information on season passes and family ticket options. 

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