Top Tips for Taking in Nanjing’s Traditional Lantern Festival

Top Tips for Taking in Nanjing’s Traditional Lantern Festival

It is the time of year when a wonderful opportunity to learn about both traditional Chinese and Nanjing culture presents itself, in the form of the annual Lantern Festival that takes place in the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

Attracting millions of people every year, the Lantern Festival is without doubt Nanjing’s most attended activity. As one of the oldest cities in China, Nanjing boasts a multitude of art forms, and that of lanterns is a typical masterpiece from a bygone Nanjing. It is also one of Nanjing’s four pieces of Intangible Culture Heritage. When darkness falls, nothing can compare to the joy brought on by the lights of a thousand different kinds of lanterns which illuminate the whole sky. 

As worthwhile as ever, this year’s lantern show is also unique, with eight exhibition areas in total; at Bailuzhou Park, Ming City Wall, Confucius Temple, Dongganchang Alley, Laomendong, Dabaoen Temple, Qinhuai River and Yuantousushui. While different themes of lantern shows are being presented in each area, those pressed for time might just choose to visit whichever is nearest. The Nanjinger herein presents its top recommendations for this year’s Lantern Festival.

  • Ming City Wall: On the top of the city wall, enjoys a unique view of the city and the lanterns stretching into the distance.
  • Confucius Temple: The star of the show, one you will not want to miss it, although after you experience the number of people present you may not be in a hurry to return. In addition to the lantern show, there is also the chance to enjoy Chinese traditional snacks and check out several ancient buildings showing visitors Confucian culture.
  • Dabaoen Temple: An audio-visual feast; the porcelain pagoda resplendent in its biggest ever light show, complimented by a Buddhism-themed soundtrack. Witness the masses in front of the Buddha, praying for themselves and their families. Come here to make your 2019 wishes. 
  • Qinhuai River: Take a boat along the river, enjoy the beautiful scenes and lanterns on both sides, and be magically transported into the Chinese poems of hundreds of years ago.

Like Nanjing, Xi’an is another ancient walled city in China that was also the nation’s capital. This year, the two cities are collaborating and exchanging each other’s cultures through their lantern shows, a good opportunity to glimpse a look into Xi’an culture without leaving Nanjing. 

Safety first though, as the Lantern Festival in Nanjing shall also bring you to appreciate the Chinese expression (and movie name), “People Mountain People Sea” (人山人海). Local police shall be well reinforced and so help should never be far away, should it be needed.

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Lucy Zhu
A high school student, Lucy Zhu is currently studying in Nanjing Foreign Language School and will go on to study media abroad. She loves music, literature and is particularly interested in cultural differences. She hopes to let more people know about Chinese culture. 高中生Lucy现在正在南京外国语学院学习。她计划大学本科出国学习媒体。她热爱音乐、文学,并且对不同文化之间的差异格外感兴趣。 她希望能让更多的人了解到中国文化。