China Lights 2023 – Nature’s Glow


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Embark on a luminous journey at China Lights 2023: Nature’s Glow, a mesmerizing festival held at Boerner Botanical Gardens in Wisconsin, USA. From September to October, the gardens transform into a vibrant spectacle, fusing ancient Chinese lantern art with modern lighting technology. Whether you’re an art aficionado, a photography buff, or simply in search of a magical experience, this festival promises a glowing adventure for all.


China Light - Nature’s Glow
Festival highlights

About the Festival

Step into a radiant world at China Lights Nature’s Glow, set within the lush expanse of Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. This one-of-a-kind festival is a sublime fusion of tradition and technology, turning the gardens into a fairytale landscape bathed in light. 

Drawing from the rich legacy of Chinese lantern festivals, the event blends intricate craftsmanship with innovative lighting techniques, creating an unforgettable experience for all ages. As you walk through a forest of twinkle lights trees and pass by luminous animal sculptures, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder. Now, let’s talk about the heart of the festival—the light displays and activities that will keep you enchanted throughout your visit.

Featured Lighting Displays

  • Glowing Mandarin Fish: These enormous, radiant fish installations add a splash of color to the surroundings.
  • Giant Octopus Tunnel: Wander through a tunnel encapsulated by a massive, glowing octopus.
  • Interactive Light Installations: Engage with artworks that change as you touch or walk by them, offering a personalized light exhibition.
  • Tunnel of Lights: A mesmerizing corridor adorned with twinkle lights that transport you to another realm.
  • Animal and Flower Decorations: Encounter lifelike light sculptures of various animals and flowers, each crafted to perfection.
  • Animated Light Exhibitions: Experience storytelling through dynamically changing lights.
  • Chinese Lanterns: Traditional handcrafted lanterns that pay homage to the cultural roots of the festival.

Activities to Explore

  • Live Stage Performances: Enjoy a variety of live shows featuring music, dance, and storytelling.
  • Asian Cuisine: Food stalls serving delicious Asian dishes like dumplings, stir-fries, and bubble tea.
  • Cultural Performances: Immerse yourself in the rich Chinese culture with traditional dances, martial arts demonstrations, and more.

Whether it’s the thrill of walking through a tunnel of lights, the cultural richness found in the craftsmanship of Chinese lanterns, or the sheer joy of experiencing animated light exhibitions, China Lights Nature’s Glow offers something special for everyone. Join us and experience a light festival unlike any other, where the glow is not just in the lanterns but also in the faces of those who wander through this luminous landscape.

Festival Dates (2023)

Clear your schedules and get your cameras ready! China Lights Nature’s Glow will be illuminating Boerner Botanical Gardens from September 15 to October 29, 2023. Spanning over six weeks, this gives you ample time to soak in the enchanting atmosphere, whether you plan to make it a weekend getaway or simply a magical evening out. Mark these dates, because this is an experience you won’t want to miss!

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The festival of lights is set within the enchanting Boerner Botanical Gardens, located at 9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners, Wisconsin, United States. The lush gardens provide the perfect backdrop for the myriad of light displays, enhancing the ethereal atmosphere of China Lights Nature’s Glow.

Proximity to the Nearest Airport:
Boerner Botanical Gardens is situated approximately 15 miles from General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.

Traveling from the Airport:

  • By Taxi or Ride-Sharing Services: A quick 20-25 minute ride will take you directly to the gardens.
  • Car Rentals: For those who prefer autonomy, various car rental agencies are available at the airport.
  • Public Transit: Though less convenient, Milwaukee County Transit System buses do connect the airport and the Hales Corners area, but you may have to make some transfers.

Traveling by Train from Other Cities

  • From Chicago: Take the Amtrak Hiawatha Service to Milwaukee Intermodal Station. From there, you can opt for car rentals or take a bus toward Hales Corners.
  • From Minneapolis: Amtrak’s Empire Builder goes to Milwaukee. Upon arrival, similar transportation options are available to reach the gardens.
  • From St. Louis: Board the Amtrak Missouri River Runner to Chicago, then transfer to the Hiawatha Service to Milwaukee. Once you’re there, various transportation options will lead you to the festival location.

Remember to visit the respective train company’s official website for up-to-date information on train schedules and ticket prices.

Be careful not to get confused between the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival and this festival

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

After an evening awash in the kaleidoscope of lights, you’ll likely want a comfortable place to rest your head; thankfully, a variety of hotels are available near Boerner Botanical Gardens to suit your needs.

Hampton Inn & Suites Milwaukee/Franklin

  • Location: Just 2 miles from the festival site, this hotel offers easy accessibility to China Lights Nature’s Glow.
  • Description: Ideal for families, Hampton Inn & Suites provides a cozy atmosphere to unwind after a day of visual feasting.
  • Amenities: Expect free Wi-Fi, a complimentary breakfast, and an indoor pool to keep the fun going.

Crowne Plaza Milwaukee South

  • Location: Situated roughly 5 miles from the festival, for those willing to trade a short drive for added luxury.
  • Description: Offering a more upscale experience, Crowne Plaza provides spacious rooms with sleek, modern designs.
  • Amenities: Enjoy free Wi-Fi, an on-site restaurant, and a fitness center to keep up with your exercise routine.

Holiday Inn Express Milwaukee Airport

  • Location: About 10 miles from Boerner Botanical Gardens, this option is closer to the airport for those catching early flights.
  • Description: A budget-friendly option that doesn’t skimp on comfort, perfect for festival-goers conscious of their spending.
  • Amenities: Avail yourself of free Wi-Fi, a complimentary airport shuttle, and breakfast to fuel up for another day of luminescent exploration.

Festival Hours

Time to synchronize your watches and set those reminders! China Lights Nature’s Glow welcomes visitors from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Whether you’re looking for an early evening stroll among twinkling fairy lights or a late-night escapade through the tunnel of lights, these hours offer flexibility for everyone. 

Cost to Visit

Ready to be a part of this scintillating adventure? Let’s talk numbers. Ticket prices for China Lights Nature’s Glow are flexible, depending on the day of the week and whether you choose to purchase online or at the gate. Here are the details to help you plan your visit:

Online Weekday (Tuesday – Thursday and Sunday)

  • General Admission: $22
  • Child (3-11): $14
  • Early Entry: $25 (Enters at 5:00 PM and receives a China Lights souvenir)
  • Family 4 Pack: $62 (2 adults and 2 children)

Online Weekend (Friday and Saturday)

  • General Admission: $25
  • Child (3-11): $16
  • Early Entry: $28
  • Family 4 Pack: $70

Walk-up Box Office

  • General Admission: $35
  • Child (3-11): $20

Other Ticket Options

  • Season Pass: $55 (Allows unlimited entry throughout the festival season)
  • Group Discount: Groups of 20 or more can avail a 20% discount on General Admission tickets.

Note: Children under 3 can enter for free.

Whether you’re planning a family outing, a romantic date, or a large group excursion, various ticketing options ensure everyone can experience the magic that is China Lights Nature’s Glow.

China Lights 2023 - Nature’s Glow

Weather and What to Wear

As the festival spans from September to October, you’ll be experiencing the beauty of early fall in Wisconsin. The weather during these months typically ranges from mild to crisp, offering a delightful atmosphere for a stroll through a radiant garden of lights. You can expect temperatures to vary from 50°F to 70°F, though it tends to get chillier as October progresses.

Recommended Clothing

  • Light Jacket or Sweater: Essential for the evenings, when temperatures often drop.
  • Comfortable Shoes: You’ll be walking through various terrains, so opt for something comfy.
  • Scarves and Gloves: Especially beneficial for late October visits when the nights get nippier.
  • Hat or Beanie: Keep that noggin warm as you wander beneath the twinkle lights trees.
  • Layered Clothing: Wear layers so you can adjust as needed, depending on the time of day and temperature shifts.

What to Eat

Once you’ve feasted your eyes on the festival’s glowing spectacle, you might find your stomach clamoring for its own kind of feast. Here’s where you can sate your culinary cravings:

Ann’s Italian Restaurant

  • Location: A short drive from the festival, situated in Hales Corners.
  • Description: Ideal for those seeking the rich flavors of Italy after a vibrant evening at the festival.
  • Foods: Dive into a menu replete with authentic Italian dishes like pasta carbonara, Margherita pizza, and tiramisu for dessert.

The Bosch Tavern

  • Location: Also in Hales Corners, making it another convenient dining spot for festival-goers.
  • Description: Known for its rustic, tavern-style ambiance, this restaurant is perfect for those in the mood for classic American comfort food.
  • Foods: Relish hearty servings of burgers, ribs, and an array of craft beers to wash it all down.

That’s Amore

  • Location: Situated in nearby Greenfield, a quick car ride away from the festival of lights.
  • Description: With its cozy atmosphere, That’s Amore offers a relaxing setting for a post-festival dinner.
  • Foods: The restaurant features a sumptuous Italian-American menu, with options like meatballs, lasagna, and New York-style cheesecake for dessert.

More Things To Do In The Area

Before or after you dive into the luminous world of China Lights Nature’s Glow, consider expanding your adventure with some of the other fabulous attractions in the area.

Hales Corners Park and Pool

  • Location: Conveniently located in Hales Corners, just minutes from the festival.
  • Description: A lush green space complemented by recreational facilities, making it the perfect venue for daytime activities.
  • Activities: Enjoy a picnic, go for a swim in the public pool, or engage in sports like basketball and tennis. There’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

Milwaukee County Zoo

  • Location: A short drive away in the heart of Milwaukee.
  • Description: Home to a myriad of species from around the world, this zoo is a must-visit for animal enthusiasts.
  • Activities: Apart from viewing exotic animals, the zoo offers train rides, a carousel, and special animal encounter programs for a more interactive experience.

Franklin Public Library

  • Location: Located in Franklin, not far from the festival site.
  • Description: A modern library offering a tranquil setting for those seeking a quiet retreat.
  • Activities: Catch up on some reading, delve into local history, or simply enjoy the peaceful ambiance as a contrast to the festival’s bustling excitement.

A Final Sparkle: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Experience at China Lights 2023: Nature’s Glow

As we wrap up our guide to China Lights 2023: Nature’s Glow, we hope you’re as enchanted by the prospect of this festival as we are. Between the mesmerizing light exhibitions, delectable dining options, and an array of nearby activities, your experience promises to be as vibrant as the twinkle lights adorning the trees. So mark your calendar, pack those layers, and prepare for a luminous adventure that’s bound to leave a lasting glow on your memories.


1. Is parking available on-site?

Yes, there is parking available at Boerner Botanical Gardens. It’s advisable to arrive early, especially on weekends, as the lot can fill up quickly.

2. Is smoking allowed at the festival?

Smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes, is not permitted within the festival grounds. Designated smoking areas are available outside the main entrance.

3. Can I bring my pet along?

Sorry, pets are not allowed within the festival area. Service animals, however, are permitted.

4. Are there any age restrictions?

There are no age restrictions. The festival is a family-friendly event, perfect for all ages. Children under 3 can enter for free.

5. Is the festival wheelchair accessible?

Yes, the paths are wheelchair accessible, but please note that the grounds are natural terrain, so some areas might be a bit more challenging to navigate.

6. Can I bring my own food and beverages?

Outside food and beverages are not permitted inside the festival grounds. However, there are various food vendors offering a range of options, from snacks to full meals.

7. Are there any additional activities aside from the light displays?

The festival also features live stage performances, Asian cuisine, and cultural performances. It’s more than just a visual feast!

8. Is photography allowed?

Yes, photography for personal use is encouraged! Feel free to capture the glowing Mandarin fish, tunnel of lights, Chinese lanterns, and all the other magical installations.

While this article aims to answer questions and concerns about the festival, it is always best to visit the festival’s official website for up-to-date information.


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