Global Winter Wonderland Festival

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Winter Holiday Season
Official name Global Winter Wonderland
Also called GWW
Global Lantern Festival
Observed by Multi-ethnicity
Type Cultural
Date November to January
2015 date November 22
Global Winter Wonderland Festival
Traditional Chinese 梦幻冬天嘉年华
Simplified Chinese 夢幻冬天嘉年華

Global Winter Wonderland is a multicultural lantern festival produced by the International Culture Exchange Group. The festival made its US debut in Santa Clara, California on November 25, 2011, and drew nearly 500,000 people by the end of its run in early January 2012. Three more Global Winter Wonderland festivals followed. In 2012 Global Winter Wonderland was held again in Santa Clara, CA. In 2013 it moved to Atlanta, Georgia and in 2014 it was held in Sacramento, California. Global Winter Wonderland will be open again in the 2015-2016 winter season, but the location has yet to be determined.

The Global Winter Wonderland Festival is based on the Chinese Lantern Festival. It has distinction of being the largest lantern festival of its kind outside of China. This event enables patrons to “Travel the World in One Night” by viewing large replicas of the world’s most famous landmarks such as India’s Taj Mahal, Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Mexico’s Chichen Itza, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and more! Global Winter Wonderland’s magnificent towering lanterns, some of which soar to over 50 feet high and 100 feet long, are built by Chinese engineers with modern technology. These lanterns even reflect the trendy green thinking of today, with their eco-friendly features of low voltage LEDS, fluorescent lights, and solar paneling. These elaborate lantern displays are built by the engineers of several structures showcased in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. They are then shipped to the venue of the event and competed over 6 weeks prior the events start date.

History of Lanterns[edit]

The modern lanterns gracing the night skies of Global Winter Wonderland have a history that tracks back over centuries and two thousand years to ancient China. Paper lanterns originated from as far back as the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 AD – 220 AD) and were used as lamps, especially in entry ways of homes. The lantern shade was practical in that it protected the flame from being extinguished in windy weather. Lanterns were made with a variety of crafts such as Chinese paintings, paper-cutting, and pricking and seeming. Lanterns were most often made from paper and silk but could be made from various kinds of materials such as bamboo, wood, wheat-straw and metal. The traditional Chinese lantern was one that was red in color.

Chinese monks also used lanterns on the twelfth day of the first lunar moon to worship Buddha. During the Eastern Han Dynasty, the Emperor, Liu Zhuang, was a Buddhist and ordered his citizenry to light lanterns to worship Buddha as the monks did. Eventually, this lantern lighting became a grand festival with common people. During the Tang Dynasty (618 AD – 907 AD), people made lanterns to celebrate their peaceful life. During this time, lanterns also symbolized and celebrated the prosperity, strength and power of China. From then on, lighting lanterns became popular in the entire country.

Eventually, lanterns went on to become an object of artistic expression, ornamentation and a major status symbol. Common to ancient Chinese society was its penchant for grand celebration, such as the Lantern Festival, aka Little New Year, named because it is the culmination of the Chinese New Year festival. The lantern festival was also where artisans competed amongst themselves to produce the most beautifully designed, elaborated and exquisite lantern, the most popular designs were copied by other lantern makers. The emperor of China himself would hire the best lantern designers to work for him, a position which was considered to be a high honor.

Today, lanterns have evolved to become decorative rather than practical but are still made as a means of artistic expression. More types of lanterns appear in festivals now than the traditional red Chinese ones. Modern technology is being used to make the lanterns, such as the ones at Global Winter Wonderland. Lanterns can be made with music playing from them, with control panels to make them light up in various ways and times, and so forth. The shapes of modern lanterns have changed over time too. The lanterns can be created into cartoon characters, Chinese zodiac animals and architectural landmarks, such as the ones featured at Global Winter Wonderland.


We are coming back for the 2015-2016 Winter Season! The location for this upcoming season is still being determined. Check the event website,, for updates on where Global Winter Wonderland will be held this season!


Global Winter Wonderland features large lantern replicas of a selection of the world’s most famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, China’s Temple of Heaven, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and many more!

The festival also features The Circus of Light with various circus acts from around the world. This performance incorporates multiple cultures showcasing their talents and entertainment. World famous flying acrobats, jugglers, fire dancers and contortionists are just a few of the acts featured in Global Winter Wonderlands Circus of Light.

Throughout the run of each Global Winter Wonderland a number of Theme Days are incorporated while the event is open. Past theme days have highlighted some of the many cultures from the city in which the event is being held that year. Hispanic Day, Asian Pacific Islander Day, Slavic Day and Anime Costume Day are just a few examples of the past Theme Days held at Global Winter Wonderland.

A Global Food Pavilion brings foods from around the world to one place. Global Winter Wonderland offers guests the chance to indulge in delicious and exotic dishes inspired from around the world without having to leave the country. For guests 21 and older, there is also a full bar with unique imported beers and wines from around the globe!

Rides and games are featured at Global Winter Wonderland for guests to enjoy. There is something for everyone with over 30 rides including favorites like the tea cups and a carousel. Guests can even experience all of the lights from above on the Farris Wheel!


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