The Lantern Festival at the Montreal Botanical Garden

The Magic of Lanterns, 18th Edition, 2010

Photos by Stephen Hartshorne

The Lantern Festival at the Montreal Botanical Gardens
The Lantern Festival at the Montreal Botanical Gardens

The Magic of Lanterns is a festival held each year at the Chinese Garden in the Montreal Botanical Gardens, featuring lanterns made in Shanghai. Lantern festivals in China date back to the Han dynasty (206 BCE - 220 AD) and were held as part of the New Year cycle of festivities.

The theme of this year's festival is "Like a Painting" with lanterns depicting scenes from Qing Ming Shang He Tu, a Chinese classic painted in 1127 that is housed at the Palace Museum in Beijing. It depicts scenes of urban life in 12th-century China.

The Dream Lake Garden, also known as the Chinese Garden, is emblematic of the long friendship between the Montreal Botanical Gardens and the Parks Department of the City of Shanghai. It was designed in 1990 by Le Weizhong, then director of the Shanghai Institute of Landscape Design and Architecture, and shipped to Montreal in 120 containers and then assembled by 50 Chinese craftsmen.

The Dream Lake Garden was inspired by the private gardens popular in the southern Yangzi River region during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

Steve Hartshorne

Stephen Hartshorne is the associate editor of He writes a blog called ArmchairTravel about books he finds at flea markets and rummage sales. He lives in Sunderland, Mass.