01 of 06
Lights of the World Lantern Festival
In 2016 a festival of lights opened in the Valley of the Sun in time for the Christmas holidays and lasting for a month beyond. The Lights of the World Lantern Festival is not solely about Christmas lights, although one of the displays is Christmas-themed.
This attraction is not returning in 2017.
There are seven zones here, each of which includes lighted displays depicting aspects of those subjects. Lanterns and lights create fantastic displays of the cultures and experiences of those zones. They are:
- Christmas Dream
- Oriental Mysteries
- African Kingdom
- America, America
- Trek Across Europe
- Isles of Oceania
- Dinosaur Park
In addition to those zones, there are nightly performances of acrobatics and dance, carnival rides and games, food and gifts.
The organizer of the festival, the US-China Cultural & Educational Foundation (UCCEF), claims that this festival is the "largest Lantern Festival that has ever been produced globally."Continue to 2 of 6 below.
02 of 06
10 Things to Know about Lights of the World Lantern Festival
Here are ten things that you might want to know before you load up the car with family and friends and head out to the festival.
Continue to 3 of 6 below.
- Let's get this out of the way — this is a pricey adventure. You might get a few dollars off by buying tickets at Walgreen's or if you find a promo code online (which I did). There is also a $10 parking charge. If you have kids that want to go on rides or eat, you are looking at a hefty expense for the evening.
- There is no need to get there before sundown since the lights are not on and the rides are not operating until it gets dark.
- Walk through the beautiful Time Tunnel to eat, shop and get to the carnival. It's quite a long walk, so wear comfortable shoes.
- There is no specific path here. You may wander at will, making sure not to miss anything! I can't say which of the areas was my favorite: it's probably a tie between Oriental Mysteries and Dinosaur Park.
- About Dinosaur Park. I'm not sure how that actually fits into the international and... cultural themes, but it certainly is entertaining and the kids will love it. In this section, there are animatronic creatures, and they mover and growl and roar at you as you walk by. Be aware that the little ones may be frightened if they are not prepared.
- Be careful walking around in the dark. There are cables and electrical lines everywhere!
- Re-entry is permitted if you get your hand stamped. You can go back to the car to get an extra jacket or a pair of gloves (or a snack?) but it's pretty far to walk to the Wild Horse Pass Casino or the Phoenix Premium Outlets. If you do leave you'll probably have to pay the parking fee again, but I didn't try it.
- I went through the attraction at what I thought was a pretty fast clip. I spent over an hour there, and I didn't stop to eat, didn't go on any rides and didn't see the show (unfortunately I had another commitment and could not wait). That means that you could easily spend two or three hours, depending on the time spent at the carnival.
- On weekends, Lights of the World Lantern Festival opens at 3 p.m. That means that you have lots of time before it gets dark. I would concentrate on the rides, carnival games and food so you can spend all your time after dark enjoying the displays.
- Tickets are good for any day through the end of the run. You are not required to pick a date that you will visit. Family Four Packs for two adults and two children will save you quite a bit of money, but they are designated for either Monday through Thursday or Friday through Sunday.
03 of 06
Prices, Directions, Dates, Hours
The inaugural Lights of the World Lantern Festival in Arizona covers a quite a bit of space! Organizers found ample acreage for both the attraction and parking south of Phoenix near Chandler at Rawhide on the Gila River Indian Community.
Dates: November 18, 2016 through January 29, 2017
Monday through Thursday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Shows take place twice on Monday through Thursday evenings and three times on weekends.
Location: Rawhide at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler. Here is a map with directions to Rawhide. Follow the signs to the event parking area.Continue to 4 of 6 below.
04 of 06
Carnival at Lights of the World Lantern Festival
There are rides for all ages at the Carnival area, as well as your typical carnival games for typical carnival prizes. Walk through the Time Tunnel to get there, and purchase your tickets at the entrance.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Lights of the World Lantern Festival
Kids just know what to do when they see a suspended orb — of course, you jump in it, sit in it, lay down in it and twirl around in it while the lights change.Continue to 6 of 6 below.
06 of 06
Merry Christmas at Lights of the World Lantern Festival
People seek out lights during the holidays, and the Lights of the World Lantern Festival does not disappoint. In addition to the cultural zones, there is a zone called Christmas Dream.