The O.C. Lantern Festival Happens Feb. 18!

Hares unite! 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. For many, the rabbit is a tender, lovely, and tame creature representing hope and longevity. It is also said to symbolize purity and auspiciousness.

A (Quite Brief) History of The Festival…

The Lantern Festival can be traced back 2,000 years. It marks the return of spring and the reunion of family. The act of lighting and appreciating lanterns is a way for people to let go of the burdens of their old selves and express their best wishes for themselves and their families for the future.

Historically, lanterns were made out of paper, silk, bamboo, glass, or jade and lit with candles from within, and today, materials are no longer limited to these. Lanterns are then typically arranged in groups to represent famous scenes from historical and mythological stories.

The 2023 O.C. Lantern Festival

Pacific Symphony joins forces on February 18 with South Coast Chinese Cultural Center/Irvine Chinese School to present the 2023 O.C. Lantern Festival, celebrating the Year of the Rabbit. The event is absolutely free to the public and filled with fun for all ages!

The festival includes a lineup of delights, including live music by the South Coast Chinese Orchestra, the new Lantern Festival Orchestra, Pacific Symphony Youth Chamber Artists and the Festival Choir; dance and movement by Lạc Hồng Performing Art Group and Lion Dance and Korean American Youth Performing Artists, and a variety of festive interactive activities including lion mask making and special photo opportunities. Plus—there will be food!

Revel in the of dazzlement of floating lanterns and release your burdens to the sky as you experience this joyous celebration!

Tickets are sold out. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with day’s festivities, as we will be posting highlights of the event.

The Lantern Festival Orchestra!

The newly formed Lantern Festival Orchestra welcomes aspiring student and avocational adult string players into its tutelage. Orchestra members receive special coaching from Pacific Symphony musicians and will play under the baton of Dr. Jacob Sustaita at 12:45 p.m. at the festival. They will be performing Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48, II. Valse, Longing for Spring Breeze by Yu-Sian Deng with arrangement by Che-Yi Lee, and finally, Danzas de Panama, IV. Cumbia y Congo by William Grant Still. 

2023 “Wishes for the Future” Art Contest

The Lantern Festival once again welcomed Orange County artists of all ages and experience to submit their visual artwork to the Lantern Festival Art Contest. This year’s theme is “Wishes for the future.” Contestants create original visual artwork in painting, photograph, and digital art form that expresses their dearest wishes for the future for themselves and their families, burdens or aspects of their past selves they would like to let go of and renew, and/or how they might make their wishes a reality.

This year we were delighted to receive an increased influx of submissions and astounding artistic talent from all ages. All submitted artwork will be displayed at the festival, but only three winners will be chosen to receive the special $200 prize and tickets to an upcoming Pacific Symphony concert!

Get Involved

Become a volunteer: Volunteer at the Lantern Festival! Contact our Director of Volunteer Services, Abby Admunds, at (714) 876-2353 or and see how you can be a part of this fun event! Plus, as a volunteer, you can earn complimentary tickets to upcoming concerts! View the volunteer application here:

For those holding tickets, you can view the full program here:

The O.C. Lantern Festival Happens Feb. 18!

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