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SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A dramatic Chinese Lantern Festival opened Saturday at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis to rave reviews.  The larger than life displays made of silk and steel are illuminated from within at night.  Each piece glows vividly.

This is the first such exhibit in the United States.  Thirty-three Chinese lantern artisans spent two months at the Botanical Garden constructing the art pieces which depict Chinese legends and culture.

In China lantern festivals celebrate the Chinese New Year.  The Missouri Botanical Garden’s festival is celebrating a 25 year scientific collaboration with China documenting the country’s more than 30,000 wild plants.  The Garden has led the international effort with assistance from researchers at Harvard University and European botanical institutions.

Visitors arriving at the Garden are greeted by a 137 foot long yellow dragon and a replica of an historic gate at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.  Inside the walls 24 other pieces of art are scattered throughout the northern half of the nearly 80 acres.

During Memorial Day Weekend you’ll see parades, displays of Chinese arts and crafts along with shows presented by Chinese acrobats and entertainers.

Some visitors came Saturday morning and returned Saturday night to see the displays illuminated.   There is an extra fee for the nighttime exhibit Thursday through Sunday.  The “Lantern Festival, Art by Day, Magic by Night” runs through August 19.  St. Louis City and County residents may visit the Garden at no charge on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

Emerson is the official sponsor.  Wells Fargo Advisors is sponsoring the opening weekend.

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