I was provided a few complimentary passes to visit this event so I could share my honest assessment. Our party of four adults went for free. However, after paying for parking and three kids’ “fun pass” admissions ($28 each), we were in it for over $100, before food, despite the free adult passes.
The Alameda Lantern Light Festival is being held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton Thursdays through Sundays, now until January 20. It is a dazzling walk through a small section of the muddy fairground lawn at night all lit up for the holidays with additional activities to keep families busy and entertained. The night we went it was extremely cold and muddy. Plan to be outdoors tromping in the grass; wear hiking shoes and gloves.
Buy tickets on site or buy online.
The Lantern Light festival is a six-week celebration of Chinese culture featuring massive lanterns and really cool acrobatic performances that made my seven-year old nearly leap out of his skin,
and authentic cuisine. The food is very limited carnival fair. I ate a corndog, my husband found Thai food at a cart, our youngest ate a packed PB&J. We never found authentic cuisine; maybe there are different food offerings on other nights.
Because the festival celebrates light, it doesn’t begin before 5 pm. That’s pretty rough on my young people and their dinnertimes.
Kids may or may not be interested in the lighting sculptures. I loved them but my kids could barely be bothered to look at them, even my most arty child. Adults will enjoy a kaleidoscope of colors in a variety of structures and themes; intricate patterns of art alongside gigantic installations that stay firmly on the ground. Each lantern appears to be three-dimensional stained-glass and is hand-crafted. Your kids might not appreciate the deep culture and artistry, but if they can stop running through the muddy inflatable maze long enough, they will be impressed.
In addition to the dazzling lights, the festival includes a smattering of other attractions and activities like acrobatic performances (included with admission), hands-on lantern making (I never found it!), mini golf (really beautiful and priced additional), and extremely limited rides on dinosaurs and dragons. My kids enjoyed the bouncy houses and maze. Bouncy houses were priced extra and the maze is free to all. See the full lineup of promised activities for families.
Plan your visit to the Alameda Lantern Light Festival
Buy tickets at the festival, no need to buy in advance.
Check the Facebook page for any updates including weather alerts.
Location: Alameda County Fairgrounds, Gate 8 or Gate 12 Corner of Bernal and, Valley Ave, Pleasanton, CA 94566
Dates and Hours: November 30 – January 20; Thurs. & Sun. 5pm – 10pm | Fri. & Sat. 5pm – 11pm
Holiday Hours: Open Daily Dec. 20, 2018 – Jan. 6, 2019; Sun. – Thurs. 5pm – 10pm | Fri. & Sat. 5pm – 11pm | New Year’s Eve 5 PM to 1 AM
Prices: Parking is $10. Under 3: FREE; ages 3 to 12: $18; Adults: $23; Seniors: $20. Activities cost more and various bundles combine the packages. Find a deal on a bundle when you buy tickets online.
Tips and tricks for visiting the Lantern Light Festival with kids
- Wear shoes that can get muddy. And bundle up for the cold.
- Plan to bring a stroller or wagon to transport children with tired legs.
- Give children glow necklaces or light up shoes to keep track of them.
- No outside food and drinks allowed inside the festival. I would power-eat snacks in the car.
My friend took her four sons to see a similar lantern light festival in Los Angeles and definitely piqued my interest. To see Chelsea’s adventure on video, see below.