The 5 Compass Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis had a Dale Chihuly art glass exhibit in 2006 that attracted 88,000 visitors according to KMOX. It was judged a smashing success. Then in 2012 it had a Lantern Festival subtitled Art by Day, Magic by Night that attracted 115,000 in its first 2 months with about 30 days yet to go. Is it any wonder that Lantern Festival, magic reimagined is scheduled for summer, 2015?
The first Lantern Festival offered 26 Chinese scenes which were lit each night at 8 pm to gasps of delight. Before that there was cultural entertainment, stage performances, traditional artisans, etc. Lantern Festival II promises “22 all-new lantern installations crafted with silk and steel” according to MBT’s Fall, 2014 Bulletin. Like Lantern Festival #1, #2 celebrates the Garden’s continuing botanical research in China where such festivals have been part of the culture for thousands of years. Garden President, Dr. Peter Wyse Jackson, says that people have been asking him if another festival would ever be held. Popular demand recognized, Lantern Festival 2015 will have a phoenix, pandas, and a cherry blossom arch that will look like a gigantic firefly explosion.
Englishman Henry Shaw moved to St. Louis when he was 19 in 1819 and opened a hardware store. By age 40 he was wealthy enough to retire and travel. He returned to St. Louis in 1851 and built an Italianate country estate called Tower Grove House far from the thriving city that long ago grew well past it. The Missouri Botanical Garden soon surrounded his estate, so Shaw opened it to the public in 1859, 30 years before he died. Locals, like me, who grew up near it called it Shaw’s Garden and watched as mentors like Peter Raven filled in available space, 79 acres, with an awesome Japanese Garden, a futuristic Climatron, an experimental rose garden that Ruth and I doted on, etc. Over time the Missouri Botanical Garden became one of the finest attractions in North America. It correctly describes itself now as a “globally renowned Garden for the World”.
Opened year round, Missouri Botanical Garden is devoted to protecting plant habitats and promoting public plant awareness. Its Guide mentions 400,000 known plant species with 100 to 200 new ones being discovered each year by Garden researchers. Ruth and I learned earlier this year on a tour of Fort Worth’s BRIT that 5 new species of plants are discovered each year in Texas alone.
Tickets to Lantern Festival, magic reimagined will be available on November 1, 2014. It will run from Memorial Day weekend through August 22. Expect to be part of an excited crowd. Visit mobot.org/lanternfestival for additional info and some stunning preview pictures.