Dragon Lights Festival – Soldier Field has Never Looked so Good

Terra Cotta Warriors at Chinese Dragon Lights Festival, Soldier Field
Spread the love
Butterflies before dark, Photos: Jackie Bookman

I can hardly wait to experience Dragon Lights Festival at Soldier Field. If Chicago had not been experiencing snow in April, I would have seen this event two weeks ago. At this point I am rushing to see it before it leaves. This is an amazing opportunity for Chicagoans and visitors to our fair city. But it is closing on May 6th so get there soon.

Dragon 2

At last- the visit: What was really interesting was the contrast between when we came in, and it was still pretty light, and the lights weren’t that interesting, and how magical and enchanting everything looked after dark.

Gates before dark, Photo: Jackie Bookman
Flowers light up, Jackie Bookman

The mission of the Dragon Lights Festival is to create an affordable and enlightening Chinese International experience for residents in Chicago and the immediate surrounding areas. Dragon Lights is an International touring exhibit that has played to millions of guests around the world. Each exhibit is custom built for the venue that it is playing. Close to sixty Chinese artisans traveled to the event site to hand make all the exhibits. This amalgamation of light and art is intended to both thrill and illuminate. Dragon Lights is a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the culture of China.

Chinese characters
Swans seem magical-Photo:Jackie Bookman

The festival also includes cultural demonstrations and displays, traditional Asian and western dining options, and live stage entertainment nightly.


The Sichuan Provincial Department of Commerce developed a campaign with the goal of holding 100 light shows in 100 cities worldwide to spread Chinese traditional culture and promote cultural exchange. The festivals in the United States have averaged attendance of 75,000 people for each market. The traditional custom of lighting lanterns has occurred for thousands of years, and Zigong City now boasts 380 lantern-­making companies with 80,000 lantern artisans.


This art form dates back to 206 BCE. Of particular interest, Sichuan Tianyu, the Chinese company staging this festival (which travels around the country), has its American office based in Chicago.

Penguins light the night- Photo: Jackie Bookman

There are more than 40 larger-than-life hand-crafted lanterns covered with hand-painted silk and illuminated by more than 1,000 twinkling lights at Soldier Field – including two 200-foot dragons. It took more than 60 artists a full month to create and build the beautiful sculptures.  And would you believe that after Chicago, none of the lanterns will be used again. All new silk fabrics will be hand-made for the next cities on the U.S. tour.


In addition to the lanterns, there are Chinese acrobats, and artists that entertain each evening.

Soldier Field takes on a whole new light at the Dragon Lights Festival as it transforms the Chicago skyline every night until May 6. The 40 larger-than-life hand-made lanterns covered with hand-painted silk and illuminated by more than 1,000 twinkling LED lights promise to create a wonderland of brilliant color and culture designed to fill ones senses. Two 200-foot dragons guard the exhibition that also includes nightly performances of amazing acrobatics, ancient music and dance. Additionally, there is a demonstration area with artists showing their skills at 1,000-year old crafts like Chinese Knot Tying, Inner Painting (painting designs and calligraphy INSIDE of already made glass bottles) and Chinese Claymaking. Sixty artisans from China’s Sichuan Province, the cultural capital for the ancient art of lantern-making, spent more than a month creating and building the beautiful sculptures on display. Come explore the tradition-filled culture and history of China right along Chicago’s beautiful lakefront. An audio guided tour of the Festival is available for cell phones.

Sea World

dragonlightschicago website


Now through May 6, 2018

5:30-10:00 PM Sunday-Thursday

5:30-11:00 PM Friday-Saturday

Tickets on sale at Ticketweb.com with ticket pricing ranging from $13 for children to $20 for Adults, VIP package for $35, as well as a family 4- pack for $45.  Tickets are valid for any day during the festival run.


Photos: Courtesy of  Dragon Lights Festival unless otherwise noted

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.