It’s time to ring in the Year of the Rat, and there are a bunch of fun ways to do so around DC (see the latest Weekend Round-Up for details on several). The Kennedy Center has already begun the celebration with The REACH Winter Lanterns, a wonderful exhibition of about 100 stunning illuminations. Crafted by Chinese artisans, the display is made up of 10,000 colored LED lights, including the Chinese Four Symbols and 12 Zodiac Signs, Panda Grove, Mushroom Garden, Floral Garden, and Jellyfish Lagoon — all of it delightful and so beautiful.
Along with the lanterns, there are more activities to enjoy. When Sasha and I visited, there was a Beijing Opera make-up demo, panda photo ops, traditional costumes to try on, a calligraphy station, and a paper lantern making workshop. Food trucks are there for bites, and outdoor seating areas warmed by heaters provide a place to eat them.
A special Family Day on Saturday, January 25, will have free fun for all ages from 1:30-4:30pm. Activities will include arts and crafts, a traditional costume photo booth, zodiac stickers, demonstrations of sugar painting and wood block printing, magic shows, and more. Plan to stick around for the Winter Lanterns, which begins at 5:30pm. And the Beijing Bamboo Orchestra is the Millennium Stage performance that evening at 6pm.
The REACH Winter Lanterns will be on display select dates through Sunday, February 2 — this weekend through Sunday, January 26, then Thursday, January 30 – Sunday, February 2. It begins at 5:30pm each evening except for January 26, when it starts at 4pm. All of it is free, though parking at the Kennedy Center is $23. You can try for street parking nearby (though difficult to find a spot), so pubic transportation (nearest Metro is Foggy Bottom) is recommended. And all of the lanterns are outdoors on The REACH campus, so dress warmly! Other activities, however, take place inside.
Here’s more of a glimpse of it all…