The night sky above the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is aglow this summer with the return of Dragon Lights, through Aug. 12. This vibrant display of 42 larger-than-life lantern sculptures is one of the most anticipated family-friendly events in Reno this summer.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and entry times are on the hour from 6 to 9 p.m., with the event closing at 10:30 p.m. The best time to see the lighted lanterns is at “Magic Hour,” approximately 7:30 p.m. just as dusk settles over the city and the lanterns brightly contrast against the darkening summer sky.
The festival features three themed gardens: Asian Culture, Ocean World, and Prehistoric Animals. Pandas and dragons to dinosaurs and jellyfish, the park comes to life with moving, glowing animals and plants. The young and young at heart can explore the Interactive Playground, and everyone is encouraged to take photos throughout the festival grounds. There’s wonder upon wonder to be discovered around every turn.
Visitors may bring food with them and enjoy a picnic dinner in the festival, or nosh on the food available for purchase on site. A Lantern Marketplace features souvenirs and Asian handicrafts for sale.
Tickets are available online and are $15 for children, $20 for adults. Families of four (two adults, two children) can save by purchasing a Family 4-Pack for $55. Walk-up tickets are available but priced at a premium. Buy your tickets online to save money and ensure a quick entrance into this exciting event. A portion of all proceeds support the Wilbur D. May Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.
Parking is free, but can fill up quickly. There is an event shuttle Thursday through Sunday between Lot C (west end of Rancho San Rafael Regional Park) and the festival entrance. The entrance is ADA accessible, but the path is dirt in some sections and may be soft in places so wheel chairs or wagons with thicker tires is advised.
Learn more about Dragon Lights here, and for a peek into how this event came to be, listen to the Washoe Life Podcast featuring the event manager and county parks superintendent.
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