China Lights dazzle in Milwaukee

Wisconsin botanical garden draws huge autumn crowds

While spending time with family in Wisconsin, we visited China Lights at the Boerner Botanical Gardens in Hales Corner, a suburb of Milwaukee. The nighttime lantern displays drew people of all ages and the crowds on a Tuesday evening testified to the magic of this traveling exhibit.

The Wisconsin food vendors sizzled brats and deep-fried cheese curds and the bartenders lathered microbrews one after another. We also sampled Asian cuisine and sake that complemented the evening’s theme.

I normally don’t visit a lot of festival stage shows but I’m glad that my family coaxed me to these performances. Amazing acrobatics! The performers kept adding height and difficulty to their feats that increased the crowd’s enthusiasm and applause.

We covered the exhibit in less than three hours, seeing two shows and sampling food and drink.
The three-story dragon lantern was my favorite.
Crowds moved slowly in the night, but they were polite.

I’ll remember the lights for a long time, thanks in part to a new auto-setting I tried on my camera called “handheld starlight” mode. I was really pleased with the results. I used a simple, inexpensive camera and many of the new ones come equipped with a variety of programmed options like the one I used. No flash, just technology magic.

This was the fourth season of China Lights. Check its website for future seasons. You could combine this autumn event with a trip to Chicago, hiking in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest, taking in the fall migration of sandhill cranes and other great birds in Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, exploring Milwaukee and its fall festivals or golfing at the world famous Kohler American Club. China Lights has visited other U.S. cities, so search online for other opportunities.

For a great evening that combines art and culture, add China Lights to your bucket list. And don’t worry about the calories until after you attend.

I used an Olympus TG-5 and its “handheld starlight” mode.
The colors and lights burst into the evening’s darkness.
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