Lumination Lights Up Gilroy Gardens

We can’t wait until July 16! That’s opening night for Lumination at Gilroy Gardens, the spectacular night-time festival that celebrates Chinese history and culture in a whole new light. This evening-only event features colossal light displays, an artisan marketplace, authentic Chinese food, and live performers from China. 

The festival will be open nightly (6-10pm) through August 14 and then on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights through November 27. Separate tickets are required for Lumination, and rides will not be running during the evening hours.

As guests stroll through the 26 acres of Gilroy Gardens at night, they will discover dozens of light displays that illuminate over 2,000 years of Chinese history, mythology, and tradition. One of the largest and most unique displays is the Porcelain Dragon, an enormous serpentine sculpture that’s over 180 feet long (longer than a Boeing 757!) and constructed from more than 60,000 porcelain plates, cups, and bowls, all painstakingly wired together by hand. This is a remarkable work of art and engineering that you really have to see up close for yourself.

Another highlight is the Bejeweled Qilin (mythical creatures with the head of a lion, the eyes of a tiger, the antlers of a deer, the body of an ox, and the scales of a dragon), which are composed of thousands of tiny bottles of colored water that sparkle brilliantly when illuminated at night. 

Several of the light displays feature historic Chinese landmarks, including the Great Wall of China and Terracotta Warriors. Standing near the park entrance will be the towering Nine-Heaven Pagoda. And a recreation of Beijing’s Temple of Heaven will soar high above Coyote Lake. Signs next to each light display provide interesting information about each subject.

An animated display in Coyote Lake brings to life the inspirational Chinese legend of Carp Jumping Over the Dragon Gate. Larger-than-life Imperial Peacocks will hold court under Gilroy Gardens’ signature Basket Tree. The Monarch Greenhouse will be transformed into a Panda Sanctuary filled with the lovable black-and-white bears in a serene bamboo forest. 

In addition to the light displays, Lumination also includes an Artisan Marketplace, where Chinese artists and craftspeople showcase their unique handmade wares, and visitors can  enjoy authentic Chinese food. Nightly performances at the Lakeside Amphitheater include acrobatics, the ancient art of “face-changing,” and traditional Chinese juggling acts.

Lumination’s massive light displays were designed and constructed by master artisans from Zigong, China, home to the original Chinese Lantern Festival. Since June, a team of 50 experienced designers, carpenters, welders, and electricians from Zigong have lived and worked in Gilroy to construct the exhibits on-site. Additional artists and performers from China will stay in Gilroy for the duration of Lumination, which runs through November 27.

This night-time event is suitable for all ages—and makes for a fun outing for singles and couples as well as families with kids. If you’re coming in from out of town, book a budget-friendly hotel room so you can stay and go wine tasting, shopping, golfing, hiking…or just exploring all that Gilroy has to offer!

Don’t miss out on this spectacular once-in-a-lifetime experience!

See the Lumination page at for more details.