With the summer months quickly passing, the thought of traveling is on the minds of many. As the cost of hitting the open road rises higher and higher, more people are looking for an alternative to an expensive week long vacation. If you are one of those travelers, consider taking a trip no farther than where a tank of gas will take you.
Travel just 73 miles north of Farmington to the Missouri Botanical Garden, specifically the Lantern Festival which gives a glimpse of the east meeting west and offering a place to relax and allow the stress to just fade away.
This year’s festival, titled “Magic Reimagined,” offers the visitor 22 new sets of lanterns to enjoy as they light up the night in spectacular colors and vivid imagery, with each set telling a different story and braiding the story with its botanical partner.
As you enter the Botanical Garden’s driveway, you are immediately welcomed by the Chinese phoenix rising up from the ashes. According to the visitor’s guide, the phoenix is typically paired with the Chinese dragon which represents a feminine and masculine yin and yang. Some claim when the phoenix stirs, good things are about to begin.
As guest tour the festival and travel from set to set, a new story is told at every stop. At one, they hear the story of a young girl who is transformed into a lotus flower floating on the ocean and at another they are entertained by pandas playing with volleyballs and eating bamboo shoots.
Although each and every set has a story, some are more subtle than others. While one tells a mythological story, the next one is a memorial and another is a reminder of ecological conservation. But the common thread for all is the beauty created from wire, silk and recycle plastic bottles – simple, basic items that leave people in awe.
The event is held from 6 to 10 p.m. each Thursday through Sunday until July 31. The festival will be open each night from Aug. 1-23. Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd. in St. Louis.
Ticket prices for the Lantern Festival through July 31 are $22 for adults, $11 for members, $10 children (ages 3-12) and $5 for members’ children.
Ticket prices for August 1-23 are $26 for adults, $13 for members, $10 for children (ages 3-12) and $5 for members’ children.
Early arrival for the festival is strongly recommended, but not because of traffic or lack of parking. It is for the LFC Chinese Acrobatic Performance Troupe.
During their 30-minute show, the troupe wows crowds with their skills of balance, juggling and acrobatic fetes, such as twirling dishes on top of bamboo poles while doing cartwheels or doing a hand stand on the shoulders of another performer.
The troupe performs at 6:30 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m.
For those who have built an appetite walking the gardens, guest have two restaurants they can enjoy. Café Flora, which is open from 6 to 9:30 p.m., offers entrees as little as $9 and has outdoor seating on the Spinks Pavilion. Sassafras Café, which is open from 6 to 8 p.m., is located at the Ridgeway Visitor Center.
For those who like listening to local music, the Botanical Garden offers the Whitaker Music Festival on Wednesday nights during the summer. Admission to the park is free after 5 p.m. on the night of the music festival, but the lanterns will not be lit during these evenings.
In just a little more than an hours drive, you can make a connection with a different culture, surround yourself with peace and tranquility and still be home to sleep in your own bed that evening.
For more information about the Missouri Botanical Gardens and other events, contact the visitor’s center at 314-577-5101.
Craig Vaughn is a reporter for the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3629 or at email@example.com