The Chinese Lantern Festival

Spokane’s Chinese Lantern Festival is amazing for so many reasons: the acrobatic and martial art performances are incredible, the rides and lantern painting are a blast for the kids, while the fantastic cultural displays and the art are truly fantastic. And who could forget the jaw-dropping lanterns! These handcrafted creations will truly take your breath away. For six amazing weeks, Spokane’s Riverfront Park is transformed into a mecca of Chinese culture, with performances and new experiences offered daily.

Butof course our favorite part of the Chinese Lantern Festival is the food! Inside the park, you’ll find some great, authentic Asian cuisine as well as American standards. There are food trucks, representations from local restaurants, coffee, and even a beer garden! What’s not to like about that?

You’re probably wondering why this particular festival caught our attention, as food is probably not the first thing you think of when you picture a Chinese Lantern Festival (and if you’ve seen some of these lanterns, you might forget about food entirely. That’s a pretty big compliment coming from us). Back in its inaugural year, 2015, they had a James-Beard nominated chef, Jeremy Hansen (the owner and executive chef of Santé, located right here in Spokane), recreating various culinary traditions every week for festivalgoers. It was pretty impressive, and it kept us coming back for more.

Every year the lanterns are different, and that isn’t just because the first year most of the lanterns were destroyed in an awful windstorm toward the end of the festival.It makes it worth the price of admission for those of us who look forward to the event every year and plan to make it part of our annual routine. The festival organizers try to make each year bigger and more impressive than the last, and so far they are succeeding. Another great thing about the festival is that they listened to people last year and lowered the price of tickets. All the more reason to attend!

The lanterns truly are spectacular, and you’ll enjoy them even more on a full stomach of delicious food. This is definitely a must-see event, even for those who don’t live in the city. If you are interested in attending the Chinese Lantern Festival at some point, note that it traditionally runs from the end of September through early November. And, for those of you who have never been to Spokane before, or who haven’t set foodin the Pacific Northwest in general, be prepared. The festival is completely outdoors and it goes on no matter the weather—rain, snow, or shine! Plan accordingly, and don’t say we didn’t warn you!