Missouri Botanical Garden brings China to St. Louis with Lantern Festival

Chinese lanterns at Missouri Botanical Gardens

The Far East meets the Midwest at Missouri’s Botanical Garden in St. Louis. The Garden is hosting a Lantern festival nightly through Aug. 23rd.

The festival showcases 22 sets of lantern designs. These aren’t the typical lanterns you may think of – that you light and let go into the sky. The lanterns on display are beautiful sculpture-looking designs, made from silk and steel. They range from cranes to a pagoda. The pagoda is made from cups and plates.

The lanterns are beautiful to see during the day, but they are illuminated at 8 p.m., creating a majestic view with a backdrop of some of the most beautiful flowers and plants you’ll ever see.

Lanterns on display at Missouri Botanical gardens for a limited time

We stopped off at the botanical garden to pick up some tickets for Lisa’s parents and our niece. We took a little time to check out the botanical garden during the daylight. We weren’t disappointed.

Visitors are greeted by a Phoenix lantern in flames near the entrance.

Rise of the Phoenix is at the entrance of the Missouri Botanical Gardens

The Missouri Botanical Garden spans 79 acres. Founded in 1859, it’s the nation’s oldest botanical garden in continuous operation.

We were recommended to start at the far end of the garden – Japanese Garden – and work our way back to the visitors center. It made sense. It gives a great, logical flow to checking out the entire grounds.

Japanese Gardens at the back of the Missouri Botanical Gardens

The Japanese Garden covers 14 acres. It is a beautiful and serene area. A small lake provides a centerpiece for the area.

The colors on the trees make you think it could be Fall. But, the hot temperature that morning reminded us it’s just the start of summer. LOL.

Colorful trees in the Japanese garden any time of year at Missouri Botanical Gardens

The flowers in the area were beautiful. Lilies and other types hugged the shoreline. The colors were impressive – blue, white, yellow, purple.

Beautiful lillies at Missouri Botanical Gardens

People fed large koi fish off a bridge. A goose snapped at the fish in order to get its share of the pellets being tossed.

Koi pond at Missouri Botanical Gardens

A family of ducks minded its own business on another side of the bridge. The mother escorted the ducklings from the shoreline to bridge, where people fed her pellets. Dad was standing guard a few feet away, but he, too, appreciated people sharing the pellets with him. The ducks weren’t afraid of the humans, and came awfully close to us. The ducklings were soooooo fluffy, Lisa wanted to take them home.


We continued our stroll through the Japanese garden and took in more beauty of the flowers and plants.

Taking in all the beauty at Missouri Botanical Gardens

As we moved along to the next section, we checked out a garden area dedicated to George Washington Carver. The scientist, who studied at Iowa State University among other places, is credited with many inventions, some related to the peanut. The Washington garden area is highlighted with a statue overlooking the garden.

Statue of George Washington Carver at Missouri Botanical Gardens

The Center for Home Gardening featured gardening you might see at someone’s home. A wall-hanging garden was attractive.

Garden wall at Missouri Botanical Gardens

A small fountain featured everyone’s favorite rodents – raccoons.

Fountain with raccoons

Our next stop was the Chinese Garden, which featured a pagoda next to a pond. The sidewalk designs in the area were interesting to us. We liked their design.

Sidewalk designs near Chinese Garden at Missouri Botanical Gardens

We moved along to a rose garden. This garden featured several types of roses. They smelled wonderful and were pretty to look at.

Several varieties of roses in rose garden at Missouri Botanical Gardens

The Tower Grove House featured a beautiful garden layout.

Tower Grove House at Missouri Botanical Gardens

We climbed the observatory building to check out the maze from hedges. People were trying their luck at navigating through the maze without having to start over. Some people made it through during our stop.


A beautiful older building stood surrounded by flowers. It used to be part of the original estate.

Garden House at the Missouri Botanical Gardens

We checked out more of the amazing flowers in the garden.

Amazing flowers at Missouri Botanical Gardens

We thoroughly enjoyed our daytime tour and looked forward to returning with the in-laws for the evening’s activities.

Fast forward to about 6 p.m. same day (LOL). We arrived at the Missouri Botanical Garden with the whole tribe. We took in some more of the garden’s beauty.

The Lantern Festival features a Chinatown-esque gate at the entrance of the Missouri Botanical Garden. It’s the San Yatsen Gate, and honors the political leader Yatsen. He struggled during his political career, including exile. He gained power following a major revolution.

Gate welcomes you to the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens

The water fountain is currently home to a sculpture featuring porcelain elephants, made from cups, plates and spoons. The elephant is considered a precious animal in Buddhism. It’s one of the eight treasures that will be present at the arrival of Maitreya, a future Buddha when he returns to Earth.

Elephant sculpture made of plates, cups, spoons at Missouri Botanical Gardens

We hurried to catch the first of two acrobatic shows at the amphitheater. The performers put on a great show. One performer did a routine involving mask changes with a little magic.

Chinese acrobatics at Missouri Botanical Gardens

A group of performers juggled plates and later lanterns.

Jugglers at Missouri Botanical Gardens

One man performed acrobatic moves on a pole.

Hand Balancing at Missouri Botanical Gardens

A team did some amazing gymnastic work, balancing themselves against each other in almost impossible-looking positions.

Amazing acrobatics at Missouri Botanical Gardens

We watched our niece Starla “play” in a fountain designed for kids. She was soaked by the time the lanterns illuminated. She had a blast, but is was exhausting just watching her do her thing.

Playing in the fountain waiting for it to turn dark for the lanterns at Missouri Botanical Gardens

The first set of lanterns we saw illuminated were a group of cranes. It was just turning dusk, so the lights were not quite as bright as they would be in about 15 minutes, but they were cool to see. Some of the cranes had wings that moved.

Illuminated cranes at Missouri Botanical Gardens Lantern Festival

One of our favorite spots was the pagoda. It illuminated in blue and green. The backdrop of the domed Climatron provided a beautiful view, in my opinion.

Pagoda lit up during Lantern Festival at Missouri Botanical Gardens

A huge lantern display covered the garden’s main water fountain area. It consisted of two sets of horses working their way toward the center lantern – the Dragon Horse. It symbolizes abundance and prosperity. Flames shot out from the fountain occasionally.

Dancing horses at Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis

Dandelions adorned the grounds near the mausoleum. They were made of recycled plastic bottles.

Dandelions made of recycled bottles at Missouri Botanical Gardens

Panda bears played along the trail.

Panda Bears playing along the trail at Missouri Botanical Gardens

A cherry tree arch welcomed visitors as they continued their trek through the garden. The lantern is symbolic of the re-opening of relations between China and Japan. Japan represented 180 cherry trees to China in 1973. Now, China has more than 3,000 cherry trees.

Cherry Trees line the walkway at Missouri Botanical Gardens

The mausoleum provided a beautiful image of the reflection of the lights.

Lit reflections at Missouri Botanical Gardens

Another great lantern represented the Chongyang Festival. It’s held on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. The festival is considered a day for people to eat Chongyang cake, drink chrysanthemum wine, climb mountains and pay homage to chrysanthemums.

Representation of Chinese festival at Missouri Botanical Gardens

One lantern display represented the building of the Great Wall.

Representation of Great Wall at Missouri Botanical Gardens

A beautifully-lit peacock vase was a crowd pleaser. It represents good luck.

Peacock teapot at Missouri Botanical Gardens Lantern Festival

The year of the Sheep was symbolized with a lantern.

Goats lit up at Missouri Botanical Gardens

The last lantern display we checked out was the Flower Fairies. They watch over the flowers of the planet. China is home to about 7,000 native plants and flowers.

Flower Fairies at Missouri Botanical Gardens

We had a wonderful time visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Lantern Festival. The botanical garden by itself is worth the visit. If you like flowers, plants and nature, this needs to be on your “must-see” list for St. Louis.

For more information on the botanical garden, please visit www.missouribotanicalgarden.org.

Disclaimer: Thank you to the Missouri Botanical Garden for our complimentary entrance to the garden. However, all opinions and views are ours.